Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Two Wins for Wiley, written by Karen Patricia Nespoli and Caitlin Bree Kennedy, and illustrated by Carissa Harris, is a children's picture book that revolves around a young boy named Wiley and his chronic stomach pain. The book begins with Wiley describing persistent belly aches that traditional Western medicine and practitioners have been unable to diagnose or treat effectively. Wiley seems improved at breakfast and is excited about baseball practice, which Wiley is passionate about. While playing, Wiley's stomach starts to hurt again and his coach recommends acupuncture, which he tries the next day. The acupuncturist, Dr. Cait, has Wiley read an article independently and shows him a simplified chart in order to point out the imbalance, talks him through his fear of needles, and proceeds with treatment. Ultimately, Wiley starts feeling better and is able to lead his baseball team to a win with a solid swing of his bat. Harris illustrates the book wonderfully with a bold color palette and artwork that embraces modern graphic realism.
As a woman of East Asian descent who grew up with traditional Chinese medicine as just a part of everyday life, I was interested in seeing what authors Karen Patricia Nespoli and Caitlin Bree Kennedy had to share about this aspect of qigong in Two Wins for Wiley. Wiley's tummy trouble is, unfortunately for many of us parents, far more common than it should be. I liked that Wiley still does his best to enjoy the sport he loves and show up for his team despite knowing that at some point he will be in pain again. Pain is scary for children and emotionally challenging for parents and caretakers who would do anything to take their child's pain away. In Wiley's case, that anything is TCM. Dr. Cait goes beyond superficial explanations of what acupuncture is and how it works, even using the word 'Qi.' However, I would have liked to read more by way of cross-cultural interaction, representation, or acknowledgment of the people and lineage that the practice comes from outside the back matter. That said, the story overall is a healthy gateway into getting the acupuncture conversation started, and we can all be happy when a little boy starts to feel better and becomes a little league hero at the end of the day. Recommended.