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Last updated Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Author: Cynthia Lord
Date of Publication:
ISBN: 0439443822
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Feb. 2019

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules-from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public"-in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Note to readers:
•  Catherine grows and learns throughout the story. Since you are only reading an excerpt, consider starting partway through the book, in order to include part of the character arc.
•  Suggestion: Before you read, have a discussion about what Autism is. Here are a few resources:
•  Comic about being Autistic: https://the-art-of-autism.com/understanding-the-spectrum-a-comic-strip-explanation/
•  "Explaining Autism to Siblings" https://themighty.com/2017/12/explaining-autism-to-siblings/

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do any of you have siblings? What is hard about having a sibling (examples: having to share, getting in trouble, babysitting...)? What is great about having a sibling (having someone to play with, helping each other, using their stuff...)?
•  How should we treat other people who have disabilities?
•  Name some rules in your own life. What rules do your parents have for you? Are there rules in your classroom or library?


•  Disability: A disability is a physical or mental condition that makes it difficult for a person to walk, see, hear, speak, learn, or do other things. Examples: a person who cannot walk, a person who is blind...
•  Autism: A person with Autism has a difference in their brain that affects how they process the world around them. People on the autism spectrum may have similar characteristics such as difficulty in social situations and communicating with others, maintaining eye contact or understanding social cues.
•  Shriek: to make a high-pitched yell
•  Quarrel: a heated argument
•  Fidget: to make small movements, especially of the hands and feet
•  Paraplegic: affected by paralysis of the legs and lower body; the loss of ability to move
•  Mimic: to copy someone else in an entertaining way

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Why do you think rules are so important to Catherine? Do you think rules are important?
•  Are you surprised by Catherine’s feelings about David?
•  What can we do to bring awareness for people with different disabilities?

Craft ideas:
•  In reference to Catherine's list of rules, have the students make their own list for their siblings or a friend (if possible, limit the students to 5 rules they believe are the most important).
•  Word Search (provided)
•  Once of the activities listed here: https://bookunitsteacher.com/wp/?p=4392 (Make a communication board)
•  Check our February craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!