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by Cynthia Lord

Published by Scholastic Press, 2006
200 pages
ISBN: 0-439-44382-2

Ages 11-14

Catherine is hopeful when she sees the moving van in the driveway next door: the woman moving in has a twelve-year-old daughter, a potential new friend if Catherine can keep David from interfering. Her younger brother is autistic, and despite the many rules Catherine has developed to help David regulate his behavior, she’s often embarrassed by his actions. Catherine’s tentative relationship with her new neighbor Kristi is complicated further when she develops an unexpected friendship with Jason, a regular client at the clinic David visits for occupational therapy. Fourteen-year-old Jason travels in a wheelchair, and talks by pointing to word cards in his communication book. After a rocky start, the two become closer as Catherine creates new word cards for Jason’s book, moving his repertoire beyond the stock provided by his therapist, enabling him to show some attitude and give voice to his adolescent sarcasm. Catherine likes Jason, but now she’s also worried about what Kristi will think of him as well as David. Preferring to keep Jason a secret from Kristi, she ends up falling short in the eyes of both her new friends when it comes to trust and honesty. As Catherine struggles to find her way into these new relationships, her feelings for her brother float realistically between frustration, embarrassment, love, protectiveness, and everyday sibling ups-and-downs. Her carefully constructed rules for David are really about her own need to feel in control, and to understand and live with a brother who is often misunderstood or teased by others. The parent of an autistic child, Cynthia Lord writes with familiarity and empathy for Catherine and her family. (MVL) ©2006 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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