I was approached by Little Pickle Press (LPP) to participate in a Blog Book Tour for Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food. Written by Jodi Carmichael and illustrated by Sarah Ackerley, Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food is about an 8 year old boy named Connor, who is very intelligent, funny and loves dogs… but Connor also has Asperger’s Syndrome. Having my own 8 year old on the autism spectrum, I knew this was going to be right up my alley!
Here is a description from LPP’s press sheet:
Follow a quirky day in the life of Connor, a brilliant student with an equally high talent for second-guessing the rules. As both entertainment and an accessible educational tool to help teach students about Asperger’s Syndrome, the book is a welcome addition to schools and libraries alike.
As I read Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food I felt like Ms. Carmichael was writing about my own son… as I would imagine many parents in my shoes would. As we walk through Connor’s day, Ms. Carmichael does an amazing job portraying what life would be like living with Asperger’s Syndrome.
During one of Connor’s typical school days we join him as he learns and goes through a number of different life lessons… all of which are quite humourous and yet very realistic in their portrayal. Many of us don’t even think about how to function each day and yet a child or individual with Asperger’s Syndrome will need to. They learn skills by repetition and reminding themselves of the ‘appropriate’ way to behave in society. So, I really do appreciate what Ms. Carmichael has done here… making these life lessons fun and entertaining for children to understand. When we understand, we learn to accept, and when those on the autism spectrum are accepted for who they are, it makes life a whole lot easier for everyone. And I, for one, believe that acceptance starts with our children.
Even as a parent of a child on the spectrum, there are many aspects of my child’s day that I honestly can’t ‘understand’. I don’t deal with the same difficulties nor do I have the same challenges… so realistically I can only guess what it would be like. The sensory issues are one of those things that I have learned about, but can’t fully appreciate them because I don’t have to deal with them. We see interactions between Connor and many of the staff at the school and follow his internal discussions with himself as he tries to manage a number of his sensory difficulties. I did chuckle to myself when Connor described how it made him feel when his principal ‘ruffled’ his hair as he says to Connor ‘See you later‘. This is something that many people do… and something many wouldn’t even think twice about. Well, here is what went through Connor’s mind:
I strongly dislike it when people mess up my hair, so it was very hard for me not to bat his hand away. I remembered that it was very, very Bad Manners to hit your principal, so I clenched my hands into tight fists, so they wouldn’t fly out at Mr. Hoover.
I know all to well my son goes through this conversation with himself… though he still struggles with the fact that he socially can’t ‘bat’ away someone’s hand. I expect that my son will always have to remind himself what is and what isn’t ‘socially appropriate’. Many of us take that simple skill for granted and we really shouldn’t.
Like most individuals on the spectrum, Connor has a subject or topic that is a huge focus… some may call it an obsession. Connor’s ‘subject’ is dogs. He knows just about everything there is to know about dogs… and I loved how Ms. Carmichael made this a strength rather than a ‘weird’ behaviour. It’s actually quite heartwarming to go through the book and see how Connor, the school staff and the children all learn to see this as a strength.
Now, I am by far an artist of any kind, but I love the illustrations done by Sarah Ackerley. They fit the book perfectly and were fun and engaging… making it so much easier for you, as the reader, to imagine what Connor is going through with each situation during his day.
To have Ms. Carmichael and Ms. Ackerley share these issues in the way that they have, not only makes it enjoyable but easy to understand. The book is recommended for children aged 8 – 12 which really is such an important age to be educating ALL children. We all need to learn and understand that it is OK to be different and that we need to be accepting of all individuals regardless of whether or not they are differently-abled.
I would also like to commend Little Pickle Press for their effort in being an enviornmentally-friendly company. Not only do they use various forms of media and technology, but they also use recycled paper, soy inks and green packaging when they print and distribute their materials. As a parent, this is very important to me as we don’t worry about our environment enough and thinking about my son growing up, I sometimes wonder what our planet will be like when he’s my age. So kudos to you Little Pickle Press!
I haven’t yet sat down with my son to read Ms. Carmichael’s book but I certainly will be. It’s an amazing learning tool for children on the spectrum or not. In the near future, Little Pickle Press will be offering a FREE lesson plan for download. I hope that schools will add this to their libraries as there are not enough books out there like Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food. I for one, would like to say thank you to both Jodi Carmichael and Sarah Ackerley for their work in helping to raise awareness and educate those about Asperger’s Syndrome. As a parent… it really means a lot!
As a side note, Jodi Carmichael is a Canadian author that is an advocate for those living with Asperger’s Syndrome…. you all know how much I LOVE to promote Canadian materials! She lives in the heart of Winnipeg with her two daughters, her husband, and a scruffy Border Terrier named Zoe. You can visit her blog HERE.
Sarah Ackerley lives in Los Altos, California with her husband and two fickle cats. She divides her time between illustrating books and creating whimsical paintings and portraits for kids of all ages. You can visit Sarah Ackerley at her website HERE.
If you are interested in purchasing Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food for your Kindle, you can do that HERE. I would highly recommend that you do!
And please follow the rest of the Blog Book Tour at these amazing blogs:
January 7 – The Connor Chronicles
January 8 – Magic Dog Press
January 8 – Maryann Miller’s – It’s Not all Gravy
January 9 - Mom-ology
January 10 - Confessions of An Aspergers Mom
January 11 - Blood Red Pencil
January 12 - Leslea Tash
January 13 - Inneraspie
Enjoy the rest of the tour… I know I will be!