Lisa Nocita's Reviews > Anything But Typical

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
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's review
May 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: star-reader-2011-2012
Read in May, 2011

"Showing? How do you show appreciation? Appreciation is an emotion. It's a feeling. You can't draw a picture of it. Why do people want everyone to act just like they do? Talk like they do? Look like they do? Act like they do? And if you don't-- If you don't, people make the assumption that you do not feel what they feel. And then they make the assumption-- That you must not feel anything at all." Jason is a twelve year-old boy with autism and the narrator of his story. His telling of the story gives you a glimpse into what it might be like for someone with autism. His mannerisms, his compulsions, his tics, his hard to control responses to physical stimuli. He is a boy with some incredibly profound insights and a wonderful storyteller. Sadly, the only place his words seem to find the right home is on the pages of his screen. Although he wants to say the right things, Jason struggles to express himself, even with those he cares for most.
"Some people, like teachers and librarians and other adults, like to say that names are not important. Like sticks and stones. But they are wrong. Every word you choose means something you think it means, and more. Like if a person is different, that is a good thing. Bit if they have a defect, that is not. Words. Names. Letters." When a fellow storyboard member begins commenting on his latest story, Jason is thrilled and looks forward to hearing from PhoenixBird. When he deduces that she may be a girl, is definitely a girl, and seems to like his writing, he begins to imagine what a "normal" would be like. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting.

This is a short, quick read. I think it would be a great read aloud with some good discussion. I have in the past year developed relationships with a couple of boys who are on the autism spectrum. So many of Jason's behaviors and actions rang true from what I have observed and experienced with these students. I particularly loved this quote. "...We are going to the library instead of art class. This is a good sign. You'd think art class would be one of the easiest classes, but it's not...A lot of space and time that is not organized. Anything can go wrong in that kind of space. But not in the library. There are computers in the library. And books. And computers. Keyboards and screens and desks that are built inside little compartments so you don't have to look at the person sitting next to you. And they can't look at me either." And while I truly feel that I have created that safe place in my library, I realized from reading this book that there is even more I can do to really create that safe place for those and all students. Thumbs up!
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