With the rise in number of cases and awareness of autism, Adrea Yip’s picture book about a boy and his autistic brother is both timely and affectingly instructive.
The first-person narrative creates an immediate intimacy with readers as a young boy relates his complex feelings for Anthony, his autistic twin. He feels adoration, love, impatience, and anger for his brother—and confusion as to why he acts the way he does. “He sometimes makes strange noises. This bothers me, especially when my friends are there…When we have family-ice-cream-time, he makes those funny noises, but they are happy noises, so that makes me laugh.”
He also feels rejection: “…most of the time, he refuses to play with me. He prefers to stack toy bricks over and over again, all by himself.” And as with many siblings of special needs children, he’s upset that Anthony gets so much attention and wonders if his parents love Anthony more than him.
Through a loving discussion, his parents talk about Anthony’s autism and his inability to express himself through words. His mother tells him that they take Anthony to therapists so he might learn to engage and communicate better with others. She also discusses tolerance and inclusion. “In our world, there are lots of different people,” she says, adding that “[we] love each other for who we are.” Finally, she reassures her son that he is loved at every moment: “…when you are funny…when you are silly…when you are grumpy.”
The story’s message is right on target and the text is followed by a list of characteristics of autism. Unfortunately, the prose includes some typographical errors, and the illustrations have a flat, cartoon quality that gives the book a generic feel. Placed alongside the boy’s earnest and touching narrative, the pictures seem even more deficient.
Still, the story is written with intelligence and sensitivity, and the book provides the perfect springboard to educate children about autism and its many effects.
Also available as an ebook.