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The Reinvention of Edison Thomas

by Jacqueline Houtman

Published by Front Street, 2010
189 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59078-708-3

Ages 9 - 13

When Eddy (Edison) Thomas learns that the crossing guard near his school is being eliminated, he worries—obsessively—about the potential dangers for younger children. Although his recent third-place finish in the school science fair left him deeply disappointed, Eddy decides to apply his interest in and aptitude for science and inventing to the problem of the unsafe intersection. Meanwhile, he’s trying to navigate the social maze of middle school. Eddy’s periodic sessions with a counselor focus on reading facial expressions and social cues, and he wishes they were as easy to understand as schematics. Eddy’s one friend at school is Mitch, a boy he’s known since preschool. But it’s Justin, another science fair kid, who points out that Mitch repeatedly sets Eddy up to be the butt of jokes and mockery, something Eddy himself has a hard time discerning. Wisconsin author Jacqueline Houtman’s debut novel features a protagonist with Asperger’s syndrome or a similar condition, although Eddy is never labeled. Scenes showing how Eddy thinks, how he talks, and how he interacts—at school and at home, with peers and with parents—reveal a kid with a great heart and sometimes challenging personality. Houtman does a terrific job balancing Eddy’s interests and aptitudes with the things that are hard for him. Even the stuff he’s good at requires realistic trial and error, but it also helps open the door to new, genuine friendship.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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