School Library Journal
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Gr 4-7-It's the summer before seventh grade and Catherine is excited because a new girl, Kristi, is moving in next door. Maybe she will have someone to spend time with this summer while her best friend is on vacation. And perhaps her younger brother David, who is autistic and always disrupts her life, will learn the rules for acting "normal." She's tired of having to be vigilant to prevent David's embarrassing outbursts and wants to be able to have easy friendships and slumber parties. At her brother's occupational therapy clinic, Catherine befriends Jason, an older boy who is confined to a wheelchair and communicates using flashcards. Catherine is delighted that she is becoming friends with this sure-to-be-popular future classmate, but she worries that Kristi won't like her after she finds out about David and learns that Catherine is friends with a disabled boy. Catherine attempts to help her brother behave more normally by teaching him dozens of rules, such as don't put toys in the fish tank, take off your shirt when you swim but not your shorts, and sometimes people laugh to hurt you. Cynthia Lord's Newbery Honor Book (Scholastic, 2006) is sympathetically narrated by Jessica Almasy. Her youthful voice captures Catherine's hope, confusion, and frustration perfectly, but she is less successful at differentiating other characters. The text's use of multiple fonts to distinguish Catherine's written list of rules for David and Jason's speech cards is difficult to render in audiobook format. Students who are not strong auditory processors may benefit from having the book available while listening to the CD to avoid confusion.-Sara Oremland, El Dorado Middle School, Concord, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.