This work, despite some flaws, offers kids with sensory difficulties useful strategies.

When My Senses Don't Make Sense

An illustrated children’s book that suggests coping mechanisms, through the use of “social stories,” for youngsters on the autism spectrum or who have sensory processing disorders.

In her work over the last 16 years, Parsakia, a child behavioral specialist, has found that “social stories,” first developed by consultant Carol Gray in 1991, are “incredibly helpful” in getting autistic children “to better understand the feelings and needs of others; while meeting their own specific needs, and developing ‘scripts’ that they can adopt and reproduce in similar social circumstances.” Social stories help improve social skills by presenting short scenarios of challenging situations. In her debut book, aimed at children ages 3 to 7 (or older, if appropriate), Parsakia focuses on the five senses, as sensory processing disorders are common problems among her clients. In simple language, she explains the senses and the purposes they serve, and through the perspective of a child, she points out that although senses can be painful, they “are good for me. They help me learn about things.” Each social story offers observations, outside perspectives, and possible positive responses to problems. In a story about the sense of hearing, for example, Parsakia’s child narrator, a small blond boy, notices that “When I go to the bathroom, the toilet flushing hurts my ears.” He also notices that other people don’t have the same reaction: “But, my friends don’t seem upset like me….If I scream, my friends might be confused.” Useful strategies to address the problem include “leave the bathroom quickly and not hear the horrible sound anymore” or “count quietly in my head without talking.” However, Parsakia leaves out some classic elements of the social story, including reassuring affirmative sentences, such as “That’s okay” or “This is important,” or cooperative sentences that show how adults or teachers can help. Also, the book lacks diversity in its storytelling and in Nacaytuna’s (Abolonia Twitt and the Toasted Cheese Sandwich, 2016, etc.) full-color illustrations; including both genders, other races, and more types from the autism spectrum might have allowed more children to see themselves in these stories. Also, the book’s punctuation could have used a cleanup.

This work, despite some flaws, offers kids with sensory difficulties useful strategies.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.


Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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