Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Princess of Mars

My twelve year old son likes books aimed at a younger demographic. This is true for some kids with autism. 
Many will stick with a series or even one special book
long after their peers have moved on. 
Of course other kids with autism, particularly
those with Asperger’s, have different literary tastes.
We met a boy about my son’s age Friday 
who has Asperger’s and one of his favorites is 
A Princess of Mars.
This was one of my favorites growing up too.
If you saw the ill-fated movie John Carter
you know a little of the story. 
American jumps to Mars, and rescues a Barsoomian (Martian) beauty, the red-skinned Princess Dejah Thoris.
The whole tale is utterly improbable and quite exciting, just what you would expect from Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Great Things about A Princess of Mars for kids with autism:
  1.  start of a series-lots more Barsoom books to enjoy
  2.  little subtext - if the characters feel something they say so.
  3.  eventful narrative to keep kids engaged

Less Helpful
  1.  poor and dated social models-good men fight, good women scream
  2.  unrealistic situations (obviously)

So you may want to talk about how life is different than
in the books, just in case your kid starts planning a trip to battle a Thark, or worse, decides you are a Thark.
(I'm not a Thark, but I do look a little green today .  .  .)
Spectrum Mom
This book is also available for free online

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Danny and the Dinosaur

There are the books my twelve year old is 
assigned to read in the seventh grade, and
then there are the books that are actually in
his head. This morning he was quoting
from Danny and the Dinosaur, so what
the hey,  I'm going to review Danny and
the Dinosaur.
At the library today I was discussing early
readers with the librarian and trying to 
find a tactful way of describing why my
six year old did not enjoy most of the
"The stories are kind of .  .  . " I hesitated.
"Stupid?" she supplied. "Yes, we'll sometimes
pull one out for story time because it fits the
theme, look at it and put it right back."
Danny and the Dinosaur is not stupid.
It's pure wish fulfillment. You go to the
museum, you see the dinosaur, you want
the dinosaur, the dinosaur follows you
home and is the best playmate ever.
Well, not you maybe, but that's what
happens to Danny.
The author/illustrator Syd Hoff also wrote 
Captain Cat which my (then) four year old chose,
much to my chagrin, over much prettier
books. So the bold cartoony style appeals
to my boys, and probably most kids.
There is a list near the beginning of things
in the museum, and that's what my son
quoted this morning. It is a very easy reader
with rhythmic logical words.
Note: if anyone can think of a book for a 
twelve year old that would interest my 
twelve year old, I would be very grateful.
His interest is entirely in the words, and
not the story at all.
Yours Somewhat Desperately,
Spectrum Mom
*Find other Danny fans & 
share your thoughts 
(or you can comment here)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Strange Stories for Strange Kids

The well-named Strange Stories for Strange Kids follows the winning Little Lit formula of short cartoon stories interspersed
with other graphic fun. My son related best to the page of
jokes and Jules Feiffer's title: "Trapped in a Comic Book."
Not every story worked for him. This is one weird quirky book,
and although meta appeals to him, this book sometimes goes
beyond the different to the downright puzzling. Literally,
since the book is full of puzzles and I think 
 Lewis Trondheim's "A-Maze-Ing Adventure" really confused
him (or was that me?).
Yet I still recommend this title. My son enjoyed the joke
page immensely, including "Why did Dr. Jekyll cross the
road?" and he never gets tired of saying and thinking,
"Trapped in a Comic Book!"
For most children I would suggest starting with the 
Little Lit Folklore and Fairy Tale Funnies to see how
they enjoy the format with more familiar stories.
But if your child truly relishes the strange, such as
a boy pulling himself out of his nose or cats exploring
outer space, you can't do better than Strange Tales.

Breaking News!
Autism Reads is now on Pintrest. 
I have two boards: 
Teaching Reading Basics
Books about Autism for Kids

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

365 Penguins

For the New Year, an old book about a new year
 - the numerically and graphically engaging
365 Penguins which my boy read years ago and
enjoys thinking about. Without prompting he will
suddenly tell me how many penguins there are
today and ask if I remember the book.
I remember it quite well. I even mentioned it
once here back in 2010 when my posts resembled 
essays more than reviews and usually included 
multiple titles.
It's a bold big book which restricts its palette
and makes its impact with a graphic punch
usually reserved for product labels.
The story of penguin daily delivery is sweet, 
simple, utterly impossible and likely to charm
both parent and child.
The Amazon review says 
"Kindergarten-Grade 4–This hilarious, oversize picture book integrates 
challenging math concepts and environmental concerns into a clever narrative."

Sounds right to me. You can also find penguin

math activities on the web.

Enjoy, but be warned, if my boy is any 

indication, you may be living with these

penguins for a very long time.

Happy Nine Penguins Day,

-Spectrum Mom

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The White Dragon

Before Paolini's Eragon flew on to the scene, McCaffrey
set the standard for draconic fantasy. For me, she still does.
Her world of Pern will enthrall tween and teen readers 
with an interest in fantasy and good decoding skills.
There is some emotional subtext, but emotions are usually
spelled out for the reader.
The White Dragon is the story of a lonely boy who 
bonds with someone as unique as he is, someone who
happens to be a dragon.
For younger kids, I've written about My Father's Dragon
elsewhere on the blog.
New Year's Resolution: Ask for Help.
It's easy to comment on my blog. That means I have
to delete irrelevant stuff (I'm avoiding the potted ham
word here) all the time. I keep it easy because I want
you to comment with your thoughts, recommendations,
reviews, anything kids books related. But you haven't, have
you? I know you're busy, but please share if you can.
Otherwise, I may as well put in place all those hoops 
to keep out the potted meat products that make commenting
elsewhere so time consuming.

Happy New Year!