February 2011 Issue
February 09, 2011

Check it out: Anything but Typical

Author: Nora Raleigh Baskin
Source: NYSUT United

Recommended by: Michele Pava, East Middle School librarian, West Seneca Teachers Association

Suitable for: Grades 6-10

Why I Chose it: This is a book that you want to place into the hands of everyone in your school community — students, teachers, parents, custodians — and say "read this, please." It is a lovely and heartbreaking story told from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy named Jason, trying to navigate the world of "neurotypicals." He is not neurotypical — he is autistic. Jason is very typical in so many ways: His desire to fit in and longing for a true friend ring loud and clear.

What I like best: Baskin's honest writing provides a much-needed glimpse into the world as Jason sees it. His family is fully explored, and it is his mother's character that brought tears to my eyes as she struggles to find signs of her son's love for her, just as he struggles to express it. My favorite part of the writing is the compassion that the author employs while she brings us into the main character's experience.

How teachers can use this book: This book works for any unit needing realistic fiction and makes an exceptional title for a "do the research" project where students take elements from a fiction title to explore through non-fiction research.