Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
Genre: Realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? There’s so much I love about this book! Lauren is a relatable third grader who has a best friend Irma. They have many things in common they love to do, both in school and out, but Lauren is nervous when she hears Irma has a new friend. Lauren also has autism, and regularly describes her feelings and reactions for the reader. She models using a number of social emotional strategies, including square breathing and waving her hand like a wave to remind her to go with the flow. All readers will be able to relate to her experiences navigating friendships, child stresses at school, and big emotions, and readers without autism will find many role models in the story for ways to connect with and support friends and family with autism without harping on it. Diversity is celebrated in the book – with Lauren, her friend Irma who is learning English, and supportive classmates with different skin colors. Black and white illustrations on most pages show both the events of the story as well as additional clues about characters’ emotions. The messages and theme of the story come across strongly even for young readers, but they are woven throughout the fantastic story to create an overall enjoyable reading experience.
Anything you did not like about the book. In what I’ve been able to find about the author and illustrator, it seems that neither have autism themselves, though the author is an educator and describes “the privilege of teaching several amazing students with Autism Spectrum Disorder” (from the author’s note).
To whom would you recommend this book? This would be an ideal read aloud for a class (probably 1st or 2nd grade). It would be great for adults to read with children (both on the autism spectrum and not) to support social emotional skills. I would also give it to kids who have read any of the picture books A Friend for Henry (Bailey), My Brother Charlie (Peete), All My Stripes (Rudolph), or Since We’re Friends (Shally) and are looking for something a bit longer, but are not ready for longer chapter books like Rain Reign (Martin) or A Boy Called Bat (Arnold).
Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians
Where would you shelve it? Chapter books (realistic fiction if genrefied)
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts
Date of review: Dec. 19, 2020