June 16, 2013

Anything but Typical - review

Anything but Typical
by Nora Raleigh Baskin
publisher Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
source: purchased

Reflections:   Aeons ago I had a student with Asperger's.   He had difficulties reading emotions on people's faces and understanding why they were so mad.   He adored writing stories, creating scenarios and names for his characters,  and told me about a girlfriend he met on the Internet because both of them wrote stories. 

Ahhh, when I read Anything but Typical, I kept nodding ...   my student could have written this.  This book is written in the first-person.

Jason Blake is 12-years-old.  He has difficulties in school and in the community because he is autistic.   He calls "normal" (non-autistic) people typical neurotypical.   They don't understand him,  they don't understand his thinkings,  they have issues with him.

Jason enjoys sharing his stories on the Storyboard website.   He meets PhoenixBird (gasp! a girl!) on-line.   She could be his first real friend.   Jason's brother is Jeremy -- the book doesn't say he has OCD tendencies, but we learn Jeremy doesn't like his food to touch each other, so their mom gets plates with dividers, or "plates with the little rooms."   Their mom has a sadness about her because of her difficulties dealing with Jason's autism.  Dad doesn't pester Jason about his differences.

Jason suggests various ways to be a good writer, such as "Names are important." One of his characters is a dwarf named Bennu. We go "ah-ha!" when we discover why he chose this name.

Books are like brownies. 
 This is one of the gems we pick up from Anything but Typical.  There is no one way to write a book, just as there is no one way to bake brownies (chewy or cake-like? one egg or three?) The author, Baskin, has written a perfect book.