Monday, March 29, 2010

Anything But Typical - review

Anything But Typical

Nora Baskin

This book isn't mine, but a library book from the library that I work in. I believe that it's geared toward childrent 12 and up, though I did read it to my fifth grade library class, because there are quite a few kids in that class that I though needed to get a different perspective in other people's lives.

The book is written in first person, from the point of view of a boy with autism. He talks about the present, as well as the past. He has a word - a different word every day - that comes to him while he's getting ready for school every morning. Usually, this certain word will pertain to things that happen to him that day.

The boy, Jason, has quite a sense of humor though he cannot handle situations with too much stimuli, people, noises, large or too small of spaces. Some of his ways of coping are to cinch his belt as tight as he can, flap his hands around in the air, etc. He also has sudden fits of rage, usually when he's been pushed too far by other kids.

One of Jason's hobbies is writing - in fact words in general have a lot of meaning to him. It's very important for him to get on his computer at a certain time each day, and he has a ritual for turning on his computer. He gets on a storyboard site and writes stories and has begun an online friendship with another writer.

I loved Jason's point of view, his perspective of his family, of the teachers at school - some of whom seem just as troubled as they accuse him of being, and of the other students at school. The descriptions of his stressed out moments really bring home to me what it must feel like to be oversensitive to the environment, and at the same time have difficulty seeing other faces. He avoids looking at faces, just listens to voices and watches the body movements of others.

Though I've seen, over the years, many books with Nora Baskin's name on them, I've never actually read one of her novels. But I just couldn't pass this one up, and I'm glad that I decided to read this to the fifth grade class. I'm also surprised, pleasantly surprised at this class. I thought that they would be impatient or not quite understanding or empathetic of this narrative voice, but they seem to be hanging on the words as I read them out loud. Sometimes I ask them a question, like why do they think he feels a certain way at a certain moment and I'm impressed with their answers, with their interpretation of his actions and feelings. This is a great book to share with a class or with your own children, if you're the parent who reads with their kids. I think classes should have more books like this on their required reading lists, than some of the outdated books that they use year after year. At the least they should add this one as required reading- it's entertaining at the same time it teaches about bigotry (against conditions rather than race), impatience and bravery. Because this kid is brave, to go back everyday to school.

I'm going to have to look up other books by Nora Baskin now.

Reading challenges;
Young Adult Reading Challenge

No comments:

Post a Comment