Adiba Nelson doesn’t exactly sit back and watch the world go by. She’s a woman of action. When she was looking for books to read to her daughter, she could not find a single book that showed a black child with disabilities. “They were either animals, or they looked nothing like her,” Adiba says.

So she wrote the book herself.

Meet ClaraBelle Blue is Adiba Nelson’s picture book (illustrated by Elvira Morando) and not only is it an important book for her personally, but it is also a vital contribution to children’s books, period.

Why? Because, as Ms. Nelson puts it, “Children need to see themselves in the world to feel their own value.” And having a book like this on your shelf, whether you are the parent of a child with special needs or not, also aims to help kids understand that a child who may look different, act different, have special needs, or be from a different place is still a kid.

“This is ClaraBelle Blue, and she’s just like YOU!”


The message of this book reminds children and their parents that a ClaraBelle is in a wheelchair, and sometimes uses braces on her legs or a walker, but she also loves to laugh, and be tickled, and she has to brush her teeth and get tucked into bed—just like all kids.

Based loosely on her own daughter, Emory, who is a child with special needs, Ms. Nelson decided to write and self-publish the book when she found many agents rejecting it for being too “narrow.”

SMeet ClaraBelle Blue exists because Ms. Nelson felt that “children cannot wait for the world to be ready to see them.”

We couldn’t agree more. This is a beautiful book that belongs on any child’s shelf and would make a wonderful gift for a school or local library.


If you are interested in buying the book, or booking Adiba Nelson for an in-school or library reading or discussion about inclusion in children’s work, check out to learn more.

Adiba Nelson is the author of Meet Clarabelle Blue and the forthcoming book, Ain’t That a Mother. You can learn more about the force that is Adiba at her website

All photos courtesy Adiba Nelson.

—Amber Guetebier


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