Wilhelmina (Willy) Jones is 8 years old. She loves baseball, lives with her grandmother, and has AIDS. In this story, Willy talks about her illness and exhibits exceptional strength and courage as she learns to cope with its symptoms and the side effects of treatment, to put up with classroom taunts, and to find fun and friendship.
This engaging story encourages compassion and understanding toward those with the illness. As the book eases children's fears about AIDS, it helps them understand that they all share the same desires and face many of the same problems. Every child will relate to Willy's hopes and fears and find comfort in her strength and spirit. Children who have AIDS as well as those who do not will find their feelings validated by this sensitive story.
You Can Call Me Willy was featured as part of Good Morning America's Millennium Time Capsule which was buried on December 17, 1999.
I found Ms. Verniero's book to be the first children's book on this subject that is honest, humane, and full of hope...You Can Call Me Willy is the first that deals with living.
—Fred L. Hammond, MS, executive director, Interfaith AIDS Ministry of Greater Danbury, CT
You Can Call Me Willy is a timely and well illustrated book that presents a difficult subject in a sensitive and caring way. I highly recommend it to all. The message of this story is not just for the child, but also for the adult. My thanks to Joan Verniero for this wonderful book.
—Terrence P. Zealand, EDD, executive director, AIDS Research Foundation for Children
This touching story is a fine introduction to understanding AIDS and coping with discrimination...
—School Library Journal