Side-Yard Superhero: Life Lessons from an Unlikely Teacher by Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., is a charming story about the small town of DeGraff, Ohio and its interesting citizens. Bernie Jones is an inspiration in the story, and those who read this story will not help but be envious of anyone who had the blessing of knowing this young man.
After reading Dr. Niece’s book, The Band Plays On, I knew this one would be a treasure, and I was correct. In both books, I was drawn in to the welcoming and cozy community of DeGraff, Ohio. Growing up all over the United States, I cannot relate with these stories of growing up in one small town, but I can appreciate the simple joy that comes from having a community that feels like home. Dr. Niece not only brings DeGraff to life, but has given me the desire to visit the small town in Ohio and experience the community for myself.
The best part of the story is Bernie Jones, the boy who struggled with cerebral palsy. Bernie had a giant smile and a matching heart, gifts he freely shared with anyone willing to accept them. Dr. Niece put words on each page that allowed me to feel Bernie’s genuine love of life and new experiences. His unconditional love of others was apparent, and those who were lucky enough to know him were blessed beyond measure. What is also impressive is how Dr. Niece recognized his special gift of friendship with Bernie at his young age.
I highly recommend Side-Yard Superhero: Life Lessons from an Unlikely Teacher by Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., to anyone looking for a “feel-good” story about a young boy and his life experiences growing up in a small town. I have gained a new appreciation for the small things in my own life after reading this inspiring story. My hope is to better recognize the gifts in my life and treasure the experiences like Bernie and Dr. Niece did growing up. Thank you for sharing your story, Dr. Niece!