The Patch book cover image

The Patch

  • 795

By: Justina Chen Headley / Illustrated by: Mitch Vane

Meet the Ballerina Pirate

The kids at school want to know why Becca is wearing glasses and a patch. Instead of telling them she has amblyopia, Becca leads her friends on imaginative adventures to explain her new fashion accessory. Mitch Vane's illustrations capture the spunky exuberance of this resourceful heroine.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Justina Chen Headley, author

Justina Chen Headley is the author of Nothing But the Truth (And a Few White Lies) (Little, Brown), a young adult novel. The Patch was her first picture book. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Read more about Justina.

Mitch Vane, illustrator

Mitch Vane has been working as a freelance illustrator for the last 20 years. She has illustrated many children's books, including The Pig Circus and Maddy in the Middle, all published in her native Australia.

Read more about Mitch.

Awards & Honors:

  • NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Selector's Choice
  • CCBC Choices

Editorial Reviews:

Kirkus Reviews

Amblyopia, or lazy eye, is an unlikely hook to hang a story on, but since nearly five percent of children experience the condition, and may feel a twinge of discomfort regarding its treatment, the time has definitely come for this issue. Headley's heroine, Rebecca, makes the best of her eye patch. When her curious classmates ask her about the patch - fortunately they are not a cruel bunch - she tells them she's a pirate and makes a game of it. When they persist, she becomes a pirate eye (cannily shifting into the singular) or a cyclopean monster, and Vane draws Rebecca lunging into her roles with brio and dash, and a good and scary face. Who knows - maybe eye patches will become accessorizing statements, but for an issue-driven offering, this one's not bad.


Five-year-old aspiring dancer Becca is furious when she learns about her lazy eye: "Ballerinas don't wear glasses. And they especially do NOT wear patches!" She grudgingly chooses purple glasses and a pink eye patch, but she doesn't want to go to school the next morning: "Everyone is going to think I look stupid." Then her brother offers to lend her his pirate costume, to match her patch, and Becca becomes Ballerina Pirate, dancing her way through class. By the end of the day, all the kids yearn for a patch like Becca's. The split-second reversal from despondent patch hater to Ballerina Pirate may seem abrupt to some children, especially those struggling to accept patches (or other corrective gear) of their own. Still, this is a well-paced, reassuring offering on an unusual topic, and the bright, cheerful, scribbly drawings of twirling, high-spirited Becca and her friends reinforce the messages of normalcy and acceptance.

School Library Journal

What could have been a saccharine and didactic message book about accepting differences is, instead, a lovely and surprising story that will certainly be enjoyed as a read-aloud. Becca's doctor discovers that she's got a lazy eye and needs a patch and glasses to strengthen her eyesight. The five-year-old is worried that the other students will think she looks stupid so, to booster her confidence, her older brother lends her his favorite pirate costume to go with her purple glasses and bright pink patch (this girl is clearly partial to pink). The bold hues in the cartoonlike watercolors reinforce Becca's and her classmates' energy. The students are fascinated as she plays Becca the Ballerina Pirate, Private Eye, and One-Eyed Monster before admitting the real reason for her patch. The illustrations dance off the pages, and Becca's exuberance shines through.


ISBN: 978-1-58089-170-7

ISBN: 978-1-60734-101-7 PDF
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 5-8
Page count: 32
8 1/2 x 11

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