Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Poetry Day-Love That Dog

Love That Dog

Because my boy started writing poems age one,
spoke through poetry age two,
(part of why we thought "gifted" instead of autism)*
and read all of Marmion age eight
(understood-not so much I think)
I am always on the qui vive for books that will
expand that liking into new areas of 
comprehension for him.
So when I saw that amazing book blogger,,
listed young adult books written in poems,
I was elated.
Alas, no one apparently writes in rhymed 
verse any more and the subjects of most
were too complex and emotionally fraught
for my son to deal with, but Love that Dog
is a charmer.
A poetic journal by a boy named Jack, he
writes his (initially reluctant) responses to
poetry class and "finds his voice"
(trite but true). The story builds to the point
when he writes a poem about the death of
his dog (I cried, my son did not).
The best part for me was that I could read
the poems in the back and my son could
read Jack's responses. This imitated
a typical school interaction in a way I
rarely get to model. The best part for
my son? There were dates for each of
Jack's entries. Here is his review:

"This is about a boy named Jack.
Jack loved his dog.
The dog had a funny name.
His name was Sky.
His poem was like,“Love that Boy” except the poem was called, “Love that Dog.”
One poem called “The Apple” kept saying words like “apple”, and was in an apple.
I liked the poem “Street Music.”
My favorite part was the dates." 
(Yes, that is a Steig dog on the cover. Creech won a Newbery, she gets Steig if she wants Steig)

The World of William Steig
-Spectrum Mom
* I should mention we now think "gifted" and "autism"
they frequently come coupled.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We Now Return to Our Regular Program

Andrew Lost #12: In the Ice Age
Who doesn't like the familiar? Popular culture confirms that 
however much we scream for novelty what we really want is 
more of the same in slightly different packaging.
For kids with autism, familiarity is more than a preference, it's
a necessity. Kids are not comfortable with doing things for
the first time and kids on the spectrum need more 
preparation for doing/understanding new things than most.
That's why I recommend 
(could I sound more like a commercial?)
the series! 
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the series offers the familiar
with just a touch of the new. This allows kids with autism to
get used to familiar characters and situations and just have a
few new ideas to process in each book instead of having to
start from scratch.
I talk about a lot of series in these posts. One of my boy's
contemporaries with a similar diagnosis adores the 
most mega volumed series of them all - 
Osborne's The Magic Treehouse.
He will never run out and he learns a little about the Civil War, Medieval times, and other history and mythology along the way.
My son prefers Greenburg's Andrew Lost series which
has quite a few volumes too. Both boys started when these 
series were age appropriate (2nd to 3rd grade) and have stuck 
with them.
As you can see from the book cover (thanks Amazon) 
my boy and I have now read twelve of Greenburg's simply 
but clearly illustrated never-ending cliffhangers. 
Every volume leads directly into the next with
plenty of explanatory notes. 
Like Osborne, Greenburg includes
facts with the magic. Though both my boys have to be 
repeatedly told that there is no such thing as a shrink ray 
(which are ubiquitous in popular culture-
from The Magic School Bus to the The Electric Company
-I guess kids love the idea of other people getting smaller? 
Or adults think they do? But I digress), 
they seem to retain a few of the facts as well.
Whether he's learning facts about the Ice Age or not, 
I value the books because he knows these characters 
and can remember them from book to book.
Series authors I have suggested in this blog:
Greenburg, J. C.  Andrew Lost
Kinney, Jeff  Wimpy Kid
Osborne, Mary Pope  Magic Treehouse
Rylant, Cynthia  Lighthouse Family
Stilton, Geronimo   
Speaking of knowing what to expect, 
you can expect a new post every Wednesday
from me,
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This is a Silly Book

The Silly Book with CD*

"Boodleheimer, Boodleheimer, [clap clap clap]"
What's better than a book? A funny book.
Or, in this case, a silly book.
This book deserves a fun for all ages label,
but of course some readers older than eight 
won't pick up a picture book.
I have the opposite problem with my son,
who will not pick up a book without pictures.
The Silly Book has silly pictures, silly songs
(see above) and silly jokes:
"Mr. Leopard, Please pass the salt and peppard."
All this silliness makes The Silly Book 
one of those books I referenced in my last post 
that you find in the less visited dewey decimal areas: 
j818.5402 H229s
Here is my son's review:
"In The Silly Book, I remembered the phrase 
'Gong, bong, gong, bong, gong, beep.'
There were silly names in it, and one was where I was supposed to call Boodlehiemer 'Hiemerboodle.' 
I saw that the silly person was a bird because 
he went tweet tweet."

Keep reading silly, keep reading fun.

-Spectrum Mom
*Amazon has the Silly Book w/o cd, also w/o image. Silly.
But the link above shows very similar cover art. S.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Library Dos and Deweys

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears
First, a confession: when I started a new school in 7th grade 
with a vastly bigger library than I was used to, I couldn't find 
the fiction section and was too shy to ask. I thought
that the authorities of the highly academic school I now attended might think fiction a waste of time. So I read 
biographies for a few months.
Stinky (Toon)
Today, I sometimes make the opposite mistake with my 
children and forget all the wonderful stuff that is not on 
the fiction shelves. The weird part is that much of the stuff elsewhere is fiction 
(if you classify fiction as made up stories).
And many of these categories may have special appeal
for children with autism because of 
detailed illustrations
word play
large type
unusual use of text
So here are the dewey decimals for you 
to explore with and find Stinky, Mosquitos,
and other delights.
Folk tales (398.2)
Graphic Novels (741.5973)
Poetry (811)
Jokes (818)
Go Hang a Salami! I'm a Lasagna Hog!: and Other Palindromes
(Shout out to Green Hills library and the wonderful
librarians there who never steer me wrong-and they
have a special needs storytime one Saturday a month 
Best Library Ever).
-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sticking Like a Burr

Sticky Burr #2: The Prickly Peril

A friend recently told me that her son
started to get interested in reading when
he discovered Captain Underpants.
That's a common story, and the fact that
her son has an Asperger's diagnosis may
not be as relevant as the fact that a lot of
kids like Captain Underpants.
Getting any child interested in books may
be as simple as finding a series they like
and popular series are a good place to start.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants 
are popular choices that have great kid appeal
because of their funny stories with goofy pictures. 
Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest
A short list of funny stories with goofy pictures:
Lenny and Mel, Scaredy Squirrel, and of
course, Sticky Burr, the subject of a new
book and today's review.
Here's what my son wrote about the newest 
adventure of that good-natured little seedpod Sticky:
"Sticky Burr started to tell the story.
But then, Scurvy Burr interrupted, 
and said he wanted to tell the story.
[I hope he's not too scurvy to tell the story].
They went to Spooky Glen.
They met Burweena.
I remember when she saw Sickly Burr.
[They fell in the bottomless pit]"
The parenthetical remarks are what
he said out loud when I first asked him
to tell me about what he had read a week
Now, he often cannot or will not remember
what we read the night before, so I thought
this recall very promising. Comic book like 
stories sometimes engage him more strongly.
As with the "I hope he's not too scurvy" 
remark, an unusual word or phrase sticks
in his mind more than the story.
The Sticky Burr books are aimed at 
elementary age kids, but there's enough
there for a middle school reader who still
wants picture support. The pictures 
absolutely show what is happening in
the text (a must for readers with autism)
and the humor is silly and character based
(a plus).
If you know a kid w/ autism who'd like to
have a book review posted, comment
or e-me
Stick to reading,
Spectrum Mom