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Anything But Typical Paperback – March 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–7—Baskin writes in the voice of a high-functioning boy who identifies himself as having numerous disorders, most with labels that appear as alphabet soup. In the third grade, after yet another battery of tests, Jason receives the diagnosis of autism. Now in sixth grade, he relates how he does not fit in, even though he tries to follow the instructions of his therapists and helpers. He labels the rest of his classmates and teachers as neurotypicals, or NTs for short. While humor resonates throughout the book, the pathos of Jason's situation is never far from readers' consciousness. If only he could act on what he knows he needs to do, his life would be so much easier. Jason also shows himself to be a deep thinker and an excellent writer. Through his stories and thinly veiled fictional characters, Baskin reveals not only the obstacles that Jason faces, but also his fierce determination to be himself at all costs. Jason is a believable and empathetic character in spite of his idiosyncrasies. Baskin also does a superb job of developing his parents and younger brother as real people with real problems, bravely traversing their lives with a differently abled child without a road map, but with a great deal of love.—Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Baskin tells this luminous story entirely from the point of view of Jason, an autistic boy who is a creative-writing whiz and deft explainer of literary devices, but markedly at a loss in social interactions with “neurotypicals” both at school and at home. He is most comfortable in an online writing forum called Storyboard, where his stories kindle an e-mail-based friendship with a girl. His excitement over having a real friend (and maybe even girlfriend) turns to terror when he learns that his parents want to take him on a trip to the Storyboard conference, where he’ll no doubt have to meet her in person. With stunning economy, Baskin describes Jason’s attempts to interpret body language and social expectations, revealing the extreme disconnect created by his internalization of the world around him. Despite his handicap, Jason moves through his failures and triumphs with the same depth of courage and confusion of any boy his age. His story, while neither particularly heartbreaking nor heartwarming, shows that the distinction between “normal” and “not normal” is whisper-thin but easily amplified to create the chasm between “different” and “defective.” This is an enormously difficult subject, but Baskin, without dramatics or sentimentality, makes it universal. As Jason explains, there’s really only one kind of plot: “Stuff happens. That’s it.” Grades 4-7. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (March 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416995005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416995005
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Ulyyf on April 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In addition to the number of books that purport to be written from an autistic perspective, there are a number of books with main characters who - if you know what you're looking at - are almost *certainly* autistic, but the word is never mentioned.

As a rule, this latter category of books tends to be better. I don't know why. Maybe it's because the focus is on the story rather than the message?

I read this book in one sitting at B&N. I didn't skip any passages, however, because I decided I didn't really care for it I don't have it at hand, so if I make a minor error of fact please just point it out to me and I'll fix it.

This book claims to be in the mind of an autistic boy. I say claims to be because, after reading the author's website and watching her video on the book, I am certain that the author is not, herself, on the spectrum. So what this book really is is a book about a NT trying to pretend to be realistically autistic enough to write a book from the perspective of an autistic boy. A daunting task to be sure, and I start to ask myself - why? Why aren't there more books by autistic authors? It's not that there are no autistic authors at all - off the top of my head I can count seven or eight, and I know there are many more. If anybody is qualified to say what life is like as an autistic individual, surely it's somebody who actually knows?

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "But if she wrote a good book, does it matter?"

And you're right. IF this book accurately catches the experience of being autistic, it doesn't matter that much who wrote it. Except I'm not convinced the author really "gets it". She has a video, as I said, about writing the book ([...]). Three things about this video really jump out at me.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The Children's Book Reporter on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Even for a typical kid, it can be hard getting by from one school day to the next. Hard to relate. Hard to figure out the right thing to do at the right moment. But Jason is anything but typical, and for him, every day is a battle to be the best version of himself he can be. He finds release and happiness in writing short stories and sharing them with an online friend from a creative writing website--but will his happiness last when he gets the chance to meet her in person where he can't hide behind his stories?
Anything But Typical is well-written, with a cast of great characters, all very believable and well-developed. Nora Raleigh Baskin's story is touching as well as important, and she brings it masterfully to life with excellent metaphors and descriptions, great pacing, and a wonderful first-person voice. The one drawback was a slight difficulty following the plot in a few moments; because the story is told from Jason's viewpoint, there are times when it was hard to tell whether what he was revealing was his daydreams or actual events.
This is one for the Newbery watch list.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on September 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"When I write, I can be heard. And known.
"But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all."

The Schneider Family Book Awards "honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for children and adolescent audiences...The book must portray some aspect of living with a disability or that of a friend or family member, whether the disability is physical, mental or emotional."

Since its inception, several favorites of mine have gained award recognition from Schneider Family Book Award committees. THINGS NOT SEEN, TENDING TO GRACE, and UNDER THE WOLF, UNDER THE DOG are books I've loved re-reading, reading aloud, and booktalking. All three are entertaining and enlightening in their portrayal of disability in a character, and I've been really excited to see each of them win this award.

"'Jason, this one is free,' the lady says. She puts her hands on my shoulders. This lady is a lady I should know, but her face looks like a lot of other faces I don't know so well, and I group them all together. Her face is pinched, but her eyes are big, round like circles. Her hair doesn't move, like it's stuck in a ball. She belongs in the library or the front office or my dentist's office.
"But she is here now, so I will assume she is the librarian.
"I know from experience that she is trying to help me, but it doesn't. I can feel her weight on my shoulders like metal cutting my body right off my head. This is not a good thing.
"I also know she wants me to look at her.
"Neurotypicals like it when you look them in the eye. It is supposed to mean you are listening, as if the reverse were true, which it is not: Just because you are not looking at someone does not mean you are not listening.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Meaghan on September 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
I think this is a pretty good portrayal of how a high-functioning autistic boy would think and act. I myself have Asperger's Syndrome, and although I am higher functioning than Jason, I can recognize a lot of my problems in him. The conflict with the story convention is well done and I thought the ending was perfect -- hopeful and realistic. Very good story overall, and it just might make neurotypical readers a little more sympathetic and understanding towards people with autism.
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