Sebastian's Roller Skates
Author: Joan de Déu Prats; Illustrator: Francesc Rovira
Pages: 32
Publisher/Date: Kane Miller/2005
ISBN: 1929132816
Age Levels: 4-8

Book Review

"Sebastian didn't talk very much, even though he had a lot to say. Sebastian was shy. He was very shy."

One day Sebastian finds a pair of abandoned roller skates in the park. He tries them on and, little by little, day by day, attempts to skate. He starts out slowly, taking tiny steps. When he falls, he gets back up and tries again. Eventually, Sebastian skates "through practically the whole park."

His hard-won skill gives him a new-found confidence—and voice. When a neighbor asked, "How are things, Sebastian?" the young boy's "face brightened, and he answered without thinking, 'Great! I'm learning how to roller skate.'"

Sebastian finds he has a lot to say. When the teacher asks if anyone knows the names of the world's tallest mountains, it is Sebastian who raises his hand and answers. He even asks Ester, a classmate, if she would like to go skating.

When Ester says yes, Sebastian rushes home, breaks open his piggy bank, and goes to the store to buy a new pair of skates.
Then he went to the park and returned the old roller skates to the same bench where he had found them.

He thought maybe somebody else who didn't talk very much even when they had a lot to say might also like to learn how to skate.
This gentle, inspiring story is accompanied by pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations. In the beginning, when Sebastian is silent, his thoughts are represented by black, white, and gray torn-paper collages. As the story progresses and the boy begins to talk, his thoughts are represented by colorful, bright collages.

Classroom Experience: We took this book into a first-grade classroom and read it aloud. The students made many connections and observations on what it is like to be shy. Then, one young girl noted, "When Sebastian learned to skate it made him brave enough to talk." This comment prompted an enlightening discussion on being brave and how one becomes brave.

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2005 Education Oasis

About the Author

Joan de Déu Prats, a Catalan native, has written more than 45 books for young children. Her work has been translated into Italian, Korean, English, and even Braille.

About the Illustrator

Francesc Rovira was born in Barcelona in 1958 straight into the middle of a large family. "What I mostly loved was to look at drawings, comic strips, and illustrations. I would always first read the images; then I would read the text to find where the illustrator got the ideas. Gradually I came to decide I also wanted to interpret and explain ideas through drawings."