The Next Chapter

Bonnie Sherr Klein didn't see enough picture books featuring disability — so she wrote Beep Beep Bubbie

The author, filmmaker and activist spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing a picture book.
Bonnie Sherr Klein is an author, filmmaker and feminist and disability advocate. (Tradewind Books)

Bonnie Sherr Klein is a documentary filmmaker, long-time feminist and disability rights activist. Klein has written a children's book with the humorous title of Beep Beep Bubbie. The picture book is about a hip, cool grandmother who travels by motorized scooter named Gladys. 

Klein spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing Beep Beep Bubbie.

Being a bubbie 

"I've had 34 years of experience in a scooter. So I had a lot to say. I wanted to get kids very young, before they have any preconceptions, because kids are very curious. They have so many different reactions to a scooter. 

I've had 34 years of experience in a scooter. So I had a lot to say.

"I should say 'bubbie' means grandmother in Yiddish. I looked around children's literature; I used to read books to my grandkids and I love books for kids.

"But when the children's books said anything about disability, they were either pathetic or very sentimental and schmaltzy."

An interior page of picture book Beep Beep Bubbie by Bonnie Sherr Klein. (Tradewind Books)

A preview for aging

"I wanted to normalize disability because, in fact, disability is like a preview or practice for aging. There's more and more grandparents who are going to care for their grandchildren or be in their children's lives in lots and lots of different ways — as different as we are people. 

I wanted to normalize disability because, in fact, disability is like a preview or practice for aging.

"I wanted to normalize that, and be very matter of fact. The book is not political. It doesn't tell you she had a stroke or why this particular bubbie uses a scooter.

"She does, and just gets on with it." 

Bonnie Sherr Klein's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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