Actress praises local author’s book based on a real-life rock band made up of students with disabilities

“The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World!” will be released Sept. 28

A local author’s book about a rock band made up of people with disabilities has made an Amazon bestseller list with help from a well-known actress.

“The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World!,” written by Mathew Klickstein, a recent Dayton transplant, will be released Sept. 28.

Aimed at middle-grade readers, the entertaining story offers lessons on interacting with people with disabilities.

The fictional book is based on students Klickstein met 21 years ago at J.P. Widney High School, a special education magnet in Los Angeles.

The real-life Kids of Widney High are talented singer-songwriters with mental and physical challenges. They record albums, create music videos and tour live.

Klickstein first met the band in 1999 as a freshman at the University of Southern California film school, He spent 10 years making a documentary film about them.

“A Kids of Widney High show is an experience and you have to see them live,” he said. “The music is only part of it. They’re funny on stage and run around giving high fives and hugs. It’s pure jubilance.”

The author credits actress Mayim Bialik will helping to push his book to Amazon’s list of best-selling new releases in children’s books on disability.

The kids of Widney Junior High is a book based on a real group of kids with special needs who found their voices as a...

Posted by Mayim Bialik on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Bialick, who most recently appeared on the television sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” and “Blossom” in the 1990s, posted a selfie with the book on her Facebook page.

“This book is tender, it’s funny, it’s perfect to read with your junior high or high schoolers, and it gives me such hope. I LOVE THESE KIDS!!!!!” she wrote."

Klickstein said society struggles with talking about people with developmental disabilities and the book can start a dialogue.

“It’s a way to broaden our perspective, it’s a way to hear and see experiences we might not be familiar with in our own little bubble.”

Autism and blindness are among the challenges for the book’s characters who navigate life with kindness, tenacity and humor.

Klickstein consulted with the real kids of Widney High School while writing. He hopes readers get the message to take the time to talk with people with disabilities and realize they are individuals.

“This is not just a book for people without disabilities to read about people with disabilities,” he said. “I wrote it to be a book for persons with disabilities as well, to finally experience themselves represented in a book.”


Klickstein will appear at upcoming book signings and film screenings.

A portion of the proceeds from the book will benefit LA Goal, a non-profit that provides vocational, educational, artistic and recreational services to people with disabilities

Book signings:

Bell, Book and Comic, 458 Patterson Rd., Dayton

Wednesday, Sept. 30 from 5 p.m. to close

Superfly Comics & Games, 132 Dayton St., Yellow Springs

Saturday, Oct. 3 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Film screenings:

Klickstein’s documentary, “Act Your Age: The Kids of Widney High Story,” chronicles 10 years of the band’s rise to underground cult fame including a 2008 two-week tour. The film is intended for more mature audiences (13 and older).

The Neon, 130 E. Fifth St. in Dayton, will show the documentary Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. Klickstein will introduce the project and answer questions after the film.

The ReelAbilties Film Festival will screen the documentary online. Registration is free and starts Oct 7. for Oct 14 showing.

About the Author