Rules – Cynthia Lord
Age Level: 9+
Reader’s Annotation: All Catherine wants is a normal life; but that’s hard to come by with a little brother who is autistic.
Summary: Catherine is a pretty normal 12 year old. She yearns for a best friend next door and spends her spare time drawing and painting. But her little brother David is not normal; he’s autistic. In order to help David Catherine makes him rules: “no toys in the fish tank,” and “keep your pants on in public.” Accompanying David on his weekly therapy sessions Catherine meets Jason, a teen who is in a wheelchair and uses communication cards to speak. As her friendship with Jason grows Catherine is forced to define for herself what is “normal” and to come to terms with the many differences each of us have to offer.
Evaluation: This is a great read. Catherine is totally believable in her goals to be both a normal friend and a helpful sister. Her frustrations while dealing with David, and feeling slighted by her family, will ring true for those with differently abled siblings. Jason gives a voice to non vocal teens everywhere, insisting that those in a wheelchair are not different after all.
Author Info: Rules is the author’s first novel. It is a Newbery Honor Book
Booktalk Ideas: What rules might you make up for an autistic sibling? What words are essential to your everyday life?
Selection: The title alone on this book has always captivated me.