Lori DeMonia, Author
Monique Turchan, Illustrator
Halo Publishing International, Fiction, 2013
Suitable for ages: 5-8 years
Themes: Autism Spectrum, Siblings, Differences, Compassion, Kindness, Special Needs
Opening: Logan stood at the window waiting with excitement. Her friend Abby was coming over for her very first play date. As soon as a car pulled in the drive, Logan yelled out, “She’s here!”
Synopsis: Logan looks forward to a play date with her friend Abby. She introduces Abby to her older sister Leah. They play a board game and invite Leah to play. But Leah leaves the room after her turn. Abby is upset that Leah won’t stay and play. Logan explains that her sister is uncomfortable around new people. Abby tells Logan that “next time we’ll play at my house.” Logan is sad about how her friend treats Leah and wonders why she doesn’t like her. Logan thinks about the similarities and differences between her and Leah. Her mother takes them to a movie and Leah has a melt down and ruins the day. Logan is angry and confused. Her parents explain that Leah has autism and that’s why she doesn’t talk much and gets upset easily. Logan tries to be patient and focuses on what Leah loves best, drawing pictures.
Why I like this book: Lori DeMonia knows first hand the confusion and challenge for a sibling who has an autistic sister or brother. It is a fictional story inspired by her daughters. The story is told with such simplicity that young children will be able to read and understand. Siblings don’t know how to explain it to their friends. They are embarrassed by their behavior and angry when they have meltdowns and ruin family outings. Leah’s Voice is an important story about accepting differences and treating others with respect and kindness. It is perfect for the classroom. Monique Turchan’s illustrations are colorful and lively. They beautifully capture the emotion of the story.
Awards: 2014 Temple Grandin Outstanding Literary Work of the Year award from the Autism Society of America, the Mom’s Choice Award, the New York Book Festival 2013 Honorable Mention Award, and the London Book Festival 2013 Honorable Mention Award.