Rio 2016! ELLE & BUDDY is the perfect book to teach kids about racing wheelchairs!

Elle & Buddy

Elle is afraid to ride a Ferris wheel, but after she learns to use a racing wheelchair it gives her the courage to face her fear.

“Elle and Buddy” GLOWS! This is a beautifully illustrated and simply told story about the determined triumph of a lovely, young girl. Elle, accompanied by her beloved pet, Buddy, is a story that will touch all ages!”
Jennifer R. Poulter | Author & Poet

Joanna Marple’s 2015 Diversity Reading/Review Challenge kicks off with a review of Elle & Buddy.

The Elle & Buddy Book Trailer

Why did I write Elle & Buddy?

Patricia Polacco has always been one of my favorite picture book authors. Her books tell heartwarming stories from her past. THANK YOU, MR. FALKER makes me cry every time I read it. Fascinated by her achievements, I travelled to her hometown, Union City, back in 2006 to attend the town’s Meteor Festival. Somehow I knew that my first picture book would also be a story from my life. I just didn’t have the right story yet.

Three years later my daughter entered high school. She wanted to join the track team and race in her racing wheelchair just as she had done for middle school. The principal and the school district wouldn’t allow it. It was one of those moments where we knew we could accept the decision or work hard to make a change. Creating change was the right thing to do, not only for Arielle, but for all teens across Florida. Many of our friends and community members agreed and helped us. The very next year the call came from an excited Athletic Director; Arielle could be a member of her track team! In fact, thanks to the FHSAA’s (Florida High School Athletic Association) new adaptive program, any differently abled teen in Florida could participate in adaptive track.

The next three years I watched as Arielle raced against her own time and showed people across Florida what a racing wheelchair was. Being a part of her track team was the highlight of Arielle’s high school years. It taught her about discipline, courage, and friendship. She taught everyone from her teammates to district coaches to see her, as a student athlete, not the kid in a wheelchair.

Arielle paved the path for teens across Florida, giving them an opportunity to participate in high school team sports. When she graduated in 2012, the teacher and writer in me knew that I had to tell Arielle’s story. After we adopted a giant slobbery dog from the shelter…

Elle & Buddy was born.


“An inspiring story about a courageous young girl overcoming a fear by pursuing her dream.” — Alesia Ruby, Educator & World Traveler
“The book portrays a life-changing event of a girl that warms my heart. A must read for all!” — Deanna Francey, Media Specialist
“Elle and Buddy is an inspiring and wonderfully illustrated story about a young girl with a disability and her best friend ‘buddy’ the dog, together they overcome their fears and enter the wonderful world of wheelchair racing. Based on true events this story is a must read for any young aspiring athlete!” — Sasha Ulasowski
“This book reminded us that nothing can hold you back, even if you are scared!!” — Erin and Molly Maegerie (ages 9 & 6)