It is autism awareness month and many of us with children on the spectrum are being intentional about teaching others and creating opportunities for our little ones to share their stories. That’s why when the opportunity to review a new book helping children to understand autism, I jumped at the chance, and I was not disappointed.
Stewie Boom! and Princess Penelope: Handprints, Snowflakes and Play-dates by Christine Bronstein and illustrated by Karen L. Young is a great introductory book for children and families seeking to learn and teach others about children on the spectrum. The premise is a young girl Penelope meets Eric at school after her teacher encourages the class to play with someone new during recess. After which, Penelope’s mom invites Eric over for a play-date. In preparation for Eric’s visit, Penelope’s mom teaches her and her brothers, Stewie and Zoom, about “the spectrum,” some different behaviors they may see when Eric visits, and how they should respond.
What I Love
I love the teachable moments in this book. The book explains how to recognize feelings through observing body language. The book addresses sensory issues Eric experiences such as becoming overwhelmed by “booming” voices and how they should speak softly. I loved the illustrations that showed some of the mannerisms some autistic children display such as the flapping hands and the covering of ears. My 7-year old son is on the spectrum, and he frequently puts his hands over his ears when things get too loud. My son was very excited to see Eric making some of his mannerisms. My son became so excited he ran around the room!
I enjoyed the diversity in the book. I liked that the teacher was Black and Eric and his family are people of color. The image below is one of my favorite images. I am happy my children can see images of themselves in this book. Eric looks very similar to my son.
I also like that the book teaches families how to prepare when they welcome a special needs child into their home. One of the obstacles many parents of autistic children face is prepping others for how their children may behave on school trips, family holidays, or in social settings. This book is a great way to help others understand behaviors that may seem odd to them.
The emotion of Eric’s mom in this book touched my heart. When Eric’s mom picks him up from Penelope’s house after a great first play-date, Penelope notices a tear in his mother’s eye. These emotions are all too common for those of us who worry about our children being accepted and welcomed by other children and families. This is a great book, and you should definitely add it to your family’s library.