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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2016

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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