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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Patches by Julie Zamora is a wonderful story about embracing your uniqueness. Max is an ordinary boy who finds every waking day a good reason to stand strong and tall. He likes wearing capes and prefers to call himself Super Patches. Playing pretend superhero makes him happy and proud and gives him the confidence to deal with his skin condition. He is suffering from eczema that leaves his skin itchy, scratchy, red, and flaky. He wishes that it would disappear, but since he can do nothing about it, he chooses to consider it as a superpower that gives him the ability to endure pain. Given that his friends don’t understand his condition, he serves as an ambassador for kids with dermatological issues by reminding them that they are not alone and by showing his friends that eczema is not contagious.
As a young boy, I often told myself that I enjoyed being weird because being normal was boring. Up until now, I still feel the same way. That is why even as an adult, I can strongly relate to Patches. Similarly, I was battling with my own skin condition which was tinea versicolor. I love the way Julie Zamora showed Patches as a confident boy despite having a skin problem. It breaks away from the cliché about kids losing self-esteem at the beginning because their condition makes them feel inferior. Patches is absolutely in a league of his own. He makes the best out of his situation by dealing with it creatively using his imagination. Most of all, it is his message to other kids that being different can also be accepted and affirmed socially. Berna Rode’s illustrations use color for clarity with Patches’ eczema in graded orange to emphasize the theme and storyline. It’s an empowering story for young kids that even grownups will enjoy reading.