Saturday, February 24, 2007



by Cynthia Lord.

Catherine is, at twelve, getting to the end of her rope. Like so many older siblings of a child like David, she has a lot of responsability and not much attention or time to herself. David is autistic, needs attention and watching, not to mention concrete rules for his behaviour. She and David share a sweet secret language in the words of Frog and Toad Together, and she is a very caring sister to him. But she is hoping to make friends with the new girl next door, Kristi. She is embarrassed by her brother's abnormal behaviours, acutely aware, as 12-year-olds are, of what others might think. She is torn by Kristi's friendship with a boy who she hates for laughing at her brother. And she if frustrated, because she wants something for herself, something will not be ruined by David. Her feelings and desires are right out there, and ring true - right up to the guilt she feels for having them in the first place.

Add on her budding friendship with Jason, a boy who is both speechless and wheelchair-bound. It's a prickly thing, growing in nice bursts and painful setbacks, all nicely centered around the interesting device of word cards she is creating and illustrating for his communication book. Ultimately, she is forced to face the fact that she is so worried about what people will think of her, she is risking both the friendships she wants - the one with Kristi and the one with Jason. He thinks she is embarrassed by him, and she has lied to Kristi.

The whole mess culminates at a community dance, when she finally lashes out at her father and insists that she "matter[s] too," then explains herself to Jason and realizes that many of the things that she has been worried about - mostly, the opinions of other people - are not as important as she had thought. Indeed, no one even seems to notice her and Jason dancing when she agrees to break her own rule and risk dancing in public.

I like this one. I like the fact that David is shown as both frustrating and a nice kid in his own right. I like the fact that Catherine clearly loves him and wants to protect him, but admits to her own frustration. The word cards and the words of Frog and Toad are nice ways to solve and talk about the communication issues in the book, and they show Catherine as caring and inventive. I think the whole things comes together into a pretty good package.

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Hey, thanks for visiting my blog and sharing a garbage truck book title. I can't wait to go to the library and see if they have it. Of course, a certain little man has a birthday in a few months and would probably love it as a gift.

"Rules," sounds like the perfect book I would share if I were still teaching sixth grade. Perhaps someday I'll be lucky enough to teach it again. I will keep this in mind.
I think this is a great pick and I'm glad that you reviewed it!
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