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Andy and His Yellow Frisbee (Woodbine House Special-Needs Collection) Hardcover – January 1, 1996
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From School Library Journal
Gr 1-3--A sympathetic view of childhood autism from a young person's point of view. Sarah, a new girl at school, sees Andy by himself on the playground and is curious about his preoccupation with spinning a yellow frisbee. His sister Rosie watches Andy protectively from her soccer game and is fearful that the new girl will disturb his fragile composure. As Rosie thinks of Andy's problem, she explains autism to readers. Soft, watercolor illustrations reinforce the tenderness that Rosie feels toward her brother. There is none of the cruelty or lack of acceptance sometimes encountered by children with disabilities just because they are "different." At the end of the book, Thompson offers factual information about autism, its different degrees and characteristics. Andy is a book that will help youngsters see how those with special needs may be different but deserve tolerance and kindness just like all children do. A brief list for further reading offers other titles about autism from this publisher.
Betty Teague, Blythe Academy of Languages, Greenville, SC
Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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From the very first sentence, " Andy was a real puzzle to Sarah." I get a sense that the author knows first hand the trials and tribulations of raising a child with autism, since the autism ribbon is known as a "puzzle".
During recess each day while Rosie was playing soccer she would watch over at the hopscotch area where Andy was engrossed with his yellow frisbee. She was not pleased when Sarah started observing her brother and getting closer to him. All Rosie could think about while trying to focus on her soccer game was whether Sarah would invade Andy's space and be able to understand his speech if he tried to talk to her.
The soft pastel illustrations play out the story line with the body positions of Andy and Sarah and the busyness of the other kids in the background. While sitting there during recess Sarah pondered what it was like being new at the school as she checked her teddy bear inside her backpack. Rosie had noticed the large backpack of Sarah's when she first arrived at the school and was cautious, but it turns out this was to keep her favorite item with her for extra comfort. Sarah decided that Andy's yellow frisbee could be a comfort item like hers.
This was an interesting spin on comparing how a new student at school feels to the child who prefers to be alone in their own world. Something about Andy and his daily routine in spinning the yellow frisbee caught the eye of the girl allowing her to open up and meet others because of this.
The relationship between the siblings shows the compassion and lengths Rosie goes to keep her brother safe and make sure his environment is comfortable so he can continue with his spinning. Instead of showcasing him as being different he almost seems carefree and not strange as other books have portrayed those with disabilities. I highly recommend Andy and His Yellow Frisbee to those within the special needs community, special education system and families and neighbors of those with various disabilities. This will open the lines of communication and get children to discuss their feelings and how they view those who are challenged.
Instead of ridiculing Andy who has autism, the other child goes over to meet him. Disarmed, Rosie begins chatting with the girl, explaining Andy's behavior and about autism in general. Andy's frisbee spinning is extended to spinning plates and other objects; his strong reactions to sensory stimuli e.g. loud noises are addressed. Rosie acts as an advocate for Andy; she includes him in what she is doing.
This is truly a lovely story that makes no promises and does not gloss over the sensory and social and developmental challenges that people on the autism spectrum routinely contend with. I like the way Rosie accepts Andy unconditionally and I like the way the author includes resource information about autism.