HandiLand: The Crippest Place on Earth. Disability in Young Adult and Children's Books

Book cover for "Handiland"
Wheeler, Elizabeth (Betsy). HandiLand: The Crippest Place on Earth. Disability in Young Adult and Children's Books. University of Michigan Press. 2019.

HandiLand: The Crippest Place on Earth is the first disability studies book on contemporary children’s and young adult literature. HandiLand claims that literature for young readers is the ideal viewing stand for a parade of political changes as youth with disabilities have infiltrated public space. This viewing stand allows us to see how far we’ve come toward defeating ableism and how far we still need to go. HandiLand examines the new prominence of youth with disabilities in contemporary English-language books from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ghana. Many of these books are bestsellers with a passionate fan base, including The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter, and Wonder. Elizabeth A. Wheeler argues that these new portrayals result from the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) and other worldwide rights laws, which enabled the movement of disabled youth into public space.

HandiLand has three purposes. First, Wheeler uses children’s and young adult literature and popular culture as sites for exploring contemporary understandings of disability. Second, she derives principles for understanding social justice from the experiences of adults and families with disabilities. Third, she offers these ideas to a wide audience by writing about complex things in clear language. This audience includes scholars and students of disability studies, literature for young readers, comics, environmental humanities, African American literature, queer discourse, and public space, but it also includes parents, educators, therapists, doctors, policy makers, and everyone else whose work, ideas, and hands touch young people with disabilities. 

Fields of Focus: American Studies, Comics and Cartoon Studies, Cultural Studies, Disability Studies, Literature and the Environment, Race and Ethnicity, Visual Culture