Follow My Leader is one of the first books I remember reading in grade school back in the 1960s. It took me awhile to remember the title, but I finally found it!
Jimmy is eleven years old and dreams of playing profession baseball when he grows up. When his father died a few years ago, Jimmy had to grow up fast, but he hung onto his dream of pro ball and thinks about it all the time.
One day while playing a pickup game with his friends, one of the boys finds a giant firecracker on the field and he decides to light the fuse. Everyone watches as it’s tossed between the boys. Suddenly the firecracker is thrown in Jimmy’s direction and it explodes in his face. Jimmy is rushed to the hospital where his head is wrapped in gauze for several weeks. Although his facial burns have healed, when the final bandages are removed, Jimmy learns he’s blind.
How could this terribly thing happen to him?? Is life worth living if he’s blind? Grudgingly Jimmy begins to learn the many new skills a blind person needs, including how to read again using Braille. But his greatest challenge comes when he receives a guide dog named Leader. Learning to work with Leader requires a great deal of patience and courage, things Jimmy doesn’t have much of right now. Can Leader give Jimmy the confidence and hope he needs to imagine a new bright future for himself?
You’ll never forget this book.
James Garfield himself became blind in his late 50’s and received his first guide-dog a couple of years later. Mr. Garfield knew firsthand how hard Jimmy had to work to overcome the many frustrations and challenges of the blind.
Early Middle Grade Reading Level, 192 pages, Published in 1957.