Asperger’s syndrome

All posts tagged Asperger’s syndrome

Banned Books 2017 – FEBRUARY READ – The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Published February 27, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, for fifteen-year-old Christopher everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor’s dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is funny, poignant and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally.

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Welcome to the second banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. If you would like to read along with us, here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

MARCH – Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

APRIL –  Habibi – Craig Thompson

MAY – Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan – Jeanette Winter

JUNE – Saga, Volume Two (Chapters 7-12) – Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

JULY – The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

AUGUST – Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

SEPTEMBER – Scary Stories – Alvin Schwartz

OCTOBER – ttyl – Lauren Myracle

NOVEMBER – The Color Of Earth – Kim Dong Hwa

DECEMBER – The Agony Of Alice – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

But back to this month….

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

First published: 2003

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2015 (source)

Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”)

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: First of all, I can’t believe that this book is now fourteen years old! That blows my mind. Chrissi and I read it not long after it had first come out and it’s one of those books that we’ve both kept on our favourite shelves, such was the impact it had on us. Things haven’t changed that much in the last fourteen years so my opinion is going to be the same for the first two questions. (We may be a little biased also because it is one of our favourite books!) Only one of the reasons I can accept as being an accurate reflection of what is in the book but that is not to say that I necessarily agree with it.

This is the offensive language reason which, although I don’t think it’s particularly over-used in the novel but I admit there are several instances of swearing and even one instance of the “c” word which may offend some people and fair enough. You are entitled to be offended by foul language – that is your prerogative. However, I don’t see bad language as a reason to ban/challenge a book outright as I don’t think you can shield children from things they are more than likely to hear in the playground/on television/in the streets if they don’t read it in books.

CHRISSI: Fourteen years old. That’s crazy! I still remember reading it for the first time and being really impressed. On my re-read I was just as impressed. To be honest, I can see why it might be challenged due to profanity, but that’s not to say I don’t agree with it. Some children are exposed to profanity in their every day lives and I don’t think challenging a book because of that is the right thing to do. I can almost guarantee that this book wouldn’t be the first time children had heard bad language. Would I read it in the classroom? No. But it still deserves to be in the library just waiting to be explored.

How about now?

BETH: Same answer – I don’t agree with the reasons for banning/challenging this book. Particularly those that wax on about a religious viewpoint/atheism. Personally, I love learning about beliefs from all over the globe from a variety of different people and I really can’t remember an instance in this book where I felt like the character’s religious views were shoved down my throat. I’ve read books before that fall into the “preachy” line and was immediately put off however this was unequivocally NOT this kind of book. As for it being inappropriate for the age group (young adult) – seriously what was so appalling that a well-adjusted or even not so well adjusted teenager should be protected from this book??

CHRISSI: Again, I wouldn’t personally use it in the classroom with teenagers (if I taught teenagers!) but I’d highly recommend it to them to read as an independent choice. Yes, there’s bad language, but as I mentioned before they’ll hear it anyway. I teach a boy with Asperger’s and I could recognise so many qualities in our main protagonist. I believe that many people with autism could find something special in this book. Those that don’t, can get an insight into what life is like for those with ASD.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Well, this is pretty obvious I guess….I loved it! I’m always worried when reading an old favourite that I won’t enjoy it as much as I did previously however this definitely wasn’t the case. In fact, I feel I got even more from the book than I did on the first reading and especially loved the additional illustrations and maths problems that broke up the text and gave us a real insight into the mind of Christopher. It is so important that conditions such as Asperger’s are highlighted and I think a book like this could really help anyone with it or those who know someone with it. For me, it was an education and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

CHRISSI: I really enjoyed rediscovering this book. As I mentioned, I have experience with children on both ends of the spectrum and it reminded me how difficult life can be for them. It made me feel super proud of their day-to-day achievements.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!
CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

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Join us again on the last Monday of March when we will be discussing Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

 

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YA SHOT REVIEW – How To Fly With Broken Wings – Jane Elson

Published October 19, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

‘If Finn Maison shouts jump you jump or you are dead.’

Twelve-year-old Willem has Aspergers Syndrome and two main aims in life: to fly and to make at least two friends of his own age. But all the other boys from the Beckham Estate do is make him jump off things. First his desk – and now the wall. As his toes teeter on the edge, Sasha Barton gives him a tiny little wink. Might she become his friend?

Bullied by Finn and his gang the Beckham Estate Boyz, Willem has no choice but to jump. As he flies through the air he flaps his arms, wishing he could fly and escape into the clouds. Instead he comes crashing down and breaks his ankle.

Sasha, angry with herself for not stopping Finn and his Boyz, is determined to put things right. And soon, while the gangs riot on their estate, Willem and Sasha form an unlikely friendship. Because they share a secret. Sasha longs to fly too.

And when Magic Man Archie arrives with stories of war-flying spitfires, he will change the lives of the kids on the Beckham Estate for ever. And perhaps find a way for Willem and Sasha to fly …

Touching on themes such as friendship and bullying, this is a charming tale about overcoming obstacles and finding friendship in unlikely places.

What did I think?:

When Alexia Casale (YA author, organiser of YA Shot and all round “good egg,”) asked me if I would like to interview Jane Elson as part of a blog tour for YA Shot, I jumped at the chance. Not only did I completely fall in love with Jane’s debut novel A Room Full Of Chocolate last year but I have had her second novel on my Kindle for a while now wondering when I was going to get round to reading it! I’m so glad I made time for it now as it was a heart-breaking and terrific read that cemented me as a definite fan of Jane Elson.

The author focuses on a few different characters in this novel but the pivotal character is a twelve year old boy called Willem who has a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. This leads to him having problems interacting and communicating with others, strange rituals and behaviours that he must complete otherwise he gets very anxious and he also tends to see the world in a very literal way which can be quite confusing for him if someone is being sarcastic for instance, or making a joke that he cannot understand.

At the beginning of the novel, poor Willem is at the mercy of school bully Finn and his horrible gang. They exploit both Willem’s fear of the bullies and his passion for flying in the worst way – by making him jump off a fairly high wall. He breaks an ankle in the incident but is still determined to complete his homework set by his maths teacher, to make two new friends. Like a little guardian angel, in flies Sasha Barton. She is the girlfriend of gang leader Finn but has become increasingly fed-up with his antics and feels terribly sorry for Willem after he breaks his ankle, visiting him and vowing to be his friend.

When the pair find out that they both share a passion for flying they are overjoyed but even more so when a kindly new neighbour to the estate shows them his beautiful secret, a Spitfire plane flown in the war which is now lovingly taken care of and flown by Archie himself. The Spitfire has a wonderful history to go along with it and Sasha especially is entranced by the love story between a man and a woman in Great Britain at war, the woman Rachel being one of the very first and little known about women pilots who flew Spitfires for the war effort in the 1940’s. Then when riots break out on the estate between Finn’s gang and a rival gang, it pulls together all the characters in ways they never imagined and additionally creates a heart stopping and dangerous moment that reveals how terrifying peer pressure and bullying can really be. As a result, it might even be possible for Sasha and Willem to discover how to fly but not initially in the way they dreamed of.

This book tugged at every single one of my heart strings. Once again, Jane Elson has pulled off a truly mesmerising read that will have you shouting at the page (not this one hopefully…no spoilers here don’t worry!) and re-evaluating how you look at/treat people you come across in your daily life. I know a couple of people with either autism or Asperger’s Syndrome myself and I think Jane has done a stellar job, writing the character of Willem sensitively and accurately. I loved Willem as a character – he has that sort of pure innocence and honesty that we often lose early on in our lives when we become grumpy, cynical old adults. It was quite refreshing for me reading a point of view like this but in another way quite bitter sweet as it can often make that child an easy target for bullies, which is what Willem goes through. I also enjoyed the extra characters and what they brought to the story, in particular Willem’s fiesty Gran (who gives the rioters a run for their money!) the lovely neighbour Archie and even Buster the Staffie who I definitely developed a soft spot for! As with her debut novel, Jane Elson does not hold back, hide away or attempt to side-step difficult or traumatic situations. Bad things happen, the world sometimes is not fair and telling children the truth I think is so incredibly important and is one of the very many reasons why I think Jane Elson is a brilliant author for the little people (and even the big people) in your life.

To see my review for A Room Full of Chocolate click HERE

To check out my interview with Jane Elson click HERE

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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