Clarabelle van Niekerk & Liezl Venter, MA, CCC-SLP, Authors
Clarabelle van Niekerk, Illustrator
Skeezel Press, Fiction, 2006
Suitable for: Preschool to Grade 2
Awards: 2010 Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award, and the 2009 Mom’ Choice Award.
Themes: Understanding a child with Asperger Syndrome, Helping the child succeed at home and at school, Teamwork
Opening: “Sam loved to giggle. He would close his eyes, throw back his head, and just giggle. This would make everyone else giggle. Sam was a happy boy but he was a little different. He did not like loud noises. He did not like to rough and tumble with other boys. Making friends was hard for Sam.” This is an endearing story about Sam, who acts differently. He lives with his parents, his sister and his dog. Sam doesn’t like his pancakes to touch each other on the plate. He doesn’t like to wear new clothes because they feel funny. He builds puzzles by himself at school and the kids tease him. A fair comes to town and Sam’s father takes him to ride on the Ferris wheel. Sam loves the feeling of going round and round so much that he slips out of the house later that night and returns to the Ferris wheel. That’s when his parents realize it’s time to see a doctor.
Why I like this book: The authors give a realistic portrayal of child with Asperger Syndrome in an upbeat and happy way. The illustrations are colorful and beautifully support the positive mood of the story. They show how important it is for the doctors, therapists, family, teacher and students to work together as a team to understand and help Sam. Over the months Sam learns to interact with the other students and they include him in their activities. And, Sam is given his moment to shine at a school event where he shares a very special gift.
Activities: At the end of the book, the authors have a special discussion guide for students, family and friends. They offer 10 very helpful tips for kids who have friends who may seem a little different. These tips will promote a thoughtful and lively classroom or family conversation.
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