Willie: A Super Friend

Gold Mom’s Choice Award
Book of the Year Award Creative Child Magazine
Los Angeles Book Festival Award – Honorable Mention Best Children’s Book
Readers’ Favorite Honorable Mention 
Zoom Into Books Author
Special needs book about making friends. Willie and his classmates find out that understanding can build a bridge to friendship.


Gold Mom's Choice Award
Book of the Year Award Creative Child Magazine
Los Angeles Book Festival Award - Honorable Mention Best Children's Book
Readers' Favorite Honorable Mention - Children's Social Issues
Zoom Into Books Author
Willie has suffered from cerebral palsy his entire life. When he was young he was challenged with being accepted by other children as their equal because they either didn’t understand his disability or were afraid he would get hurt playing with them. He learned to cope, mostly by showing them in many ways he was their equal on the playground.

Barry Kienzle





Other Details

illustrated by Devika Joglekar




8.5 x 11

Year Published


1 review for Willie: A Super Friend

  1. Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite

    We’re all different. Sometimes our differences make us stronger. That’s certainly the case for Willie. He has cerebral palsy and moves around in a wheelchair. He still wants to play with other children his age. Only, like Willie’s mother, the other children are worried they might hurt Willie due to his so-called handicap. He’s determined to prove them wrong. After donning a superhero cape, he returns to the playground and starts shooting hoops, moving about the court like anyone else might do on two legs, only Willie’s in a wheelchair. Other special needs children join in the fun and soon everyone, even those who were afraid of hurting Willie, join in.

    Barry Kienzle’s picture book story, Willie: A Super Friend, is based on a true story. There are even photographs of the real Willie in his superhero cape at the end of the book. The story is told in simple language so young readers can follow along as they learn to read the story themselves. These young readers will instantly feel a connection to Willie and to the uncertainty of other children on the playground. Perhaps the situation in the story will compare to something they have experienced. Young readers will learn about cerebral palsy, living in a wheelchair or with other special needs, and how one’s differences define who they are and how strong they are.

    Willie is definitely a strong person, both inside and out, and young readers will instantly see that. They’ll be cheering him on as he wheels his chair around the basketball court. But Willie learned an important lesson, too, that handicaps, special needs, whatever you want to call it that make us appear different, are all in the mind, not in the heart and the willpower to succeed. Beautiful illustrations that complement the story. Told with compassion and attention to detail.

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About the Author

Barry Kienzle was born, raised and educated in northern Kentucky and is in every sense, a Kentucky boy, proud of his heritage and the state he calls home. As such, he is very familiar with its history and culture and feels honored that his first novel, The Crossings, is a story with northern Kentucky origins.

Barry studied Accounting at Northern Kentucky University, became a CPA and worked primarily in the accounting and finance areas in construction and real estate development companies, currently as a CFO. As he nears retirement, he is venturing toward a second career in writing and felt compelled to begin it with a novel about an amazing venture of his father’s who, in 1932 hopped a freight train and rode it to New Orleans to see the Mardi Gras.

Barry’s devotion to the community has led him to serve on many boards over time including Habitat for Humanity, senior citizens groups, school and other capital raising campaigns and other not-for-profit organizations. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of both the Northern Kentucky University Foundation and the Bank of Kentucky. For more information visit Barry’s website HERE

Zoom Into Books Presentations


Challenges of Writing Historical Fiction  – View Here on Zoom Into Books YouTube Channel

The Crossings and The Indian   – the stories behind these two novels plus as the challenges of writing historical fiction.  

Non-Fiction Writing Memoirs – Available Soon on Zoom Into Books YouTube Channel

Heart of a Lion – the story of Willie Burton, the high school wrestler who suffered with cerebral palsy and how his story has motivated others to overcome their own obstacles. Watch HERE