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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Colin Fischer, written by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz. Razorbill, Penguin. 2012. $19.00 ages 12 and up

'"Don't," said Colin between breaths. "Please don't do that." Too late. Stan stole the ball and took it into the paint for an easy basket. Colin watched, attempting to identify his emotions. Anger and fear he knew well, but another unfamiliar feeling had presented itself: disappointment. In that moment, Colin realized something very important about himself. He didn't like to lose."

In journal entries with added footnotes, and clear descriptions of what he finds interesting and eventful, Colin shares his story with readers. It is evident very quickly that Colin has Asperger's and he shows us just exactly how it affects his everyday life:

"Colin stopped in his tracks, a learned response to his father's kind but commanding voice. He turned toward his father, head tilted down, avoiding his gaze - not out of shame, but because Colin avoided any gaze unless absolutely necessary. It had the effect of making the boy seem perpetually sad, although he almost never was."

He uses charts and pictures to understand the social cues given on the faces of the people he meets.
He doesn't like to be touched, avoids looking directly at schoolmates and teachers, and is deeply disturbed by all loud sounds; in fact, his most common reaction to a loud noise is to bark like a dog. It causes gross misunderstanding for many who come in contact with him.

While he is learning to deal socially and emotionally with the difficulties in high school as they present themselves, Colin is a math whiz and like Sherlock Holmes, has an uncanny ability to notice things that are happening around him and finds it incredibly easy to make connections that others cannot see. Sherlock Holmes is a hero to Colin.

When a gun goes off in the cafeteria, Colin is quick to note that Wayne, the resident bully, is not to blame. Determined to solve the mystery and find the real culprit, he enlists Wayne's help. He lies to his parents (for the first time in his life) and sets off to try to prove his theory. It could be dangerous!

Told with wry humor, this book will quickly immerse middle grade and young adult readers in Colin's story. Once started, I had great difficulty putting it down. There were places where I laughed out loud. I did go back to reread favorite passages and will surely be recommending it for sharing in middle years classrooms, and for those who love character driven books. Colin is an amazing young man, fully developed and sympathetic in every sense of the word.

Minor characters have great presence in this memorable book. His parents are loving and supportive despite some very difficult times, his younger brother is understandably jealous and embarrassed, Melissa helps him whenever she can, his new friend Wayne is bewildered by Colin's need to make things right, his coach is someone we would all love to have on our team.

Don't miss the endpapers which offer a clear look at Colin's view of his world!

Let's  end with the hope that we WILL meet Colin and Wayne in the future.

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