The Monstore by Tara Lazar

The Monstore9781442420175_p0_v6_s260x420The Monstore

Tara Lazar, Author

James Burks, Illustrator

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages:4-8

Themes: Monsters, Brothers and Sisters, Problem Solving

Opening: “At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gums balls, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside…THE MONSTORE.”

Synopsis: Zach is desperate to keep his sister Gracie from snooping around his bedroom. “Keep Out” signs don’t work, so Zach visits The Monstore to purchase a monster that frightens pesky sisters. He purchases Manfred, but Manfred shows Gracie his favorite hiding place. When Manfred doesn’t work, Zack returns to the store and demands a refund. But the manager says “no returns and no exchanges.” Zach keeps returning to the store to buy more monsters, but they don’t scare Gracie. The house becomes overrun with monsters. Zach is frustrated and not sure what to do. But Gracie does.

Why I like this book:  Hilarious! This a clever and unique sibling book for children who have a MONSTROUS appetite for monster books. Tara Lazar has written a quirky and humorous story that will inspire young minds to create their own monsters.  This is wonderful bed time book that begs to be read repeatedly. James Burk’s illustrations are lively, bold and colorful. They will tickle the imaginations of both children and parents. Visit Tara Lazar at her website.

Resources:  Have children draw the monster they’d like to buy at the Monstore.  You can  fill a box with crafty materials and let your kids make their own monsters and name them.  For monster craft ideas visit Make My Own Monster   and Activity Village.

 

Autism, The Invisible Cord

Autism Invisible Cord9781433811913_p0_v1_s260x420Autism, The Invisible Cord:  A Sibling’s Diary

Barbara Cain, Author

Magination Press, Fiction, 2013

Themes:  Autism Spectrum, Sibling Relationships, Family Relationships

Suitable for Ages: 9-12

Opening“If you were to see him riding his bike, smiling in the wind, you’d never know.  Ezra looks like any other sixth grader with faded jeans, turned-around cap, and messy bunch of butterscotch-colored curls.  You see, my brother is like any other eleven-year–old…except when he isn’t.  Like today.”

Synopsis:  Jenny’s younger brother, Ezra, has autism.   She shares her story about life with Ezra in a diary she writes daily.  Jenny is a 14-year-old student trying to balance her last year in middle school, with running a friend’s campaign for class president, auditioning for the  spring musical, and worrying about protecting her brother from a school bully.  Some times Ezra can be the biggest obstacle in Jenny’s life because she feels like her brother’s keeper.  At other times Ezra can be the most amazing brother.  When Ezra gets a service dog,  the invisible cord between them begins to loosen and Jenny begins to focus more on the things that she wants to do.    She discovers she is a very talented writer and works on a special school project.  Her dream is to attend a very prestigious summer writing camp.  It is Jenny’s time to shine.

Why I like this book:  Barbara Cain has written a beautiful and realistic story about what it feels like growing up with a sibling with different abilities.   Cain has created an engaging character in Jenny who shares the daily complexities of her life with Ezra — the frustration, embarrassment, worry, joy and hurt.  Cain writes with great sensitivity and authenticity.  I highly recommend this book for kids who have a sibling with autism, and for their parents.  This is also a good middle grade read in the classroom.  Barbara Cain, MSW, is a clinical supervisor at the University of Michigan’s  Psychological Clinic and has authored many books.  She has included some from very helpful pages of back matter for siblings.  You may visit Barbara Cain on her website.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

Russell’s World

Russell's World9781433809767_p0_v1_s260x420Russell’s World:  A Story for Kids About Autism

Charles A. Amenta, III, M.D.,  Author

Monika Pollak, Illustrator

Magination Press:  Non-fiction, 2011

Suitable for Ages:  5 – 10

Themes:  Autism Spectrum, Sibling Relationships, Family Support, Differences

Opening“Russell is a kid with special differences.  He has autism.  This means his behaviors can be surprising in three big ways.  He likes to be alone…He can’t talk…He doesn’t play the way other kids do.”

Synopsis:  Russell is nine years old and has a form of autism which makes it hard for him to talk and learn.  He hums, babbles, giggles and screams.  He has two younger brothers, Benjamin and Gregory, who love Russell and play with him when he’s willing.  They also know when they need to leave Russell alone.  When his brothers have friends over, Russell leaves the room.  Benjamin and Gregory are important in helping Russell copy things they do through repetition.    Russell attends school where he learns sign language, manners and playing with other children.  But, there are times that Russell puts his relationship with his brothers to the test when he breaks their toys or throws tantrums during the night.  Unlike many children with autism, Russell, loves hugs and tickles.   He is happy boy with brothers who support him.

Why I like this book:  This story is a heart warming look into a family living with a child with autism.  It is written by Russell’s father, a doctor, who uses very simple language to help children understand autism.  The story is told through a collage of photographs of Russell and his brothers accompanied by colorful illustrations that create a background.  Very clever.   Throughout the story Dr. Amenta shares a situation, and then helps kids understand Russell’s response.  He’s also quick to point out that even though Russell may be nonverbal, other kids with autism do talk, have an easier time learning and have special talents.   He explains to kids that autism affects each child differently.  I feel that parents of an autistic child would find this book  useful in helping siblings understand the differences.

Since the book was first published in 1992, Russell and his brothers are now adults.  Russell runs a small envelope stuffing business and has a deep love of music.  Benjamin is a pianist and Gregory is a mathematician/physicist and percussionist.  Music is a very strong bond for this family.

Resources:  There is extensive back matter in the book for parents.  In using the book with children, ask them what is alike and what is different in Russell’s world compared to their own.  Siblings of kids with autism may see both similarities and differences between Russell and their brother/sister.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.