Spotlights the heroes and heroines with disabilities in young people’s literature as it also imagines an ideal society for youngsters with disabilities


HandiLand looks at young adult novels, fantasy series, graphic memoirs, and picture books of the last 25 years in which characters with disabilities take center stage for the first time. These books take what others regard as weaknesses—for instance, Harry Potter’s headaches or Hazel Lancaster’s oxygen tank—and redefine them as part of the hero’s journey. HandiLand places this movement from sidekick to hero in the political contexts of disability rights movements in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ghana.
Elizabeth A. Wheeler invokes the fantasy of HandiLand, an ideal society ready for young people with disabilities before they get there, as a yardstick to measure how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go toward the goal of total inclusion. The book moves through the public spaces young people with disabilities have entered, including schools, nature, and online communities. As a disabled person and parent of children with disabilities, Wheeler offers an inside look into families who collude with their kids in shaping a better world. Moving, funny, and beautifully written, HandiLand: The Crippest Place on Earth is the definitive study of disability in contemporary literature for young readers.

Elizabeth A. Wheeler is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Disability Studies Minor, University of Oregon.

“One of this book’s strengths is its attention to disabled youth in relation to these cultural representations. Wheeler's overview of disability rights activism will be invaluable to nondisabled parents and teachers who want to be allies to disabled children growing up in an ableist world.”
–Alison Kafer, University of Texas at Austin

“Wheeler’s scholarship is extraordinarily diverse and intersectional. . . The deft combination of the scholarly and everyday lived experience make HandiLand groundbreaking.”
–Scott Pollard, Christopher Newport University

"HandiLand is poised to become the definitive study of representation of disability in contemporary literature for young readers. ... Scholars and lay people whose personal or professional work intersects with the fields of literature, education, disability studies, and social justice should consider this title a must read. Summing Up: Essential."


Winner: American Library Association (ALA) 2020 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

- ALA Choice Outstanding Academic Title