I just finished reading Newbery Honor book Rules by Cynthia Lord. I have been reading through a bunch of kids' books because I wanted to use them with my 4th graders. I am working on a presentation called "Reading Like a Writer" for the Virginia State Reading Association conference based on the same idea that I use in class with my students. I use good writing to demonstrate how to learn how to be a good writer. I read stories to them and show them how writers create voice, characters, description, etc. It has made me a more in-tuned reader and has helped me appreciate all of the elements that make a book memorable. I have probably enjoyed "Reading Like a Writer" more than my students have because I have been amazed of the beauty of words out there in kids' books.
I loved this book! Catherine, the main character, has a brother who is autistic, and has become friends with a handicapped boy named Jason while waiting for her brother at occupational therapy sessions. Jason cannot speak, but he uses a book to communicate. Catherine chooses and illustrates words to put in his communication book. I also loved the celebration of words, and how Catherine gives Jason words--that no one else would give him--to really express himself.
This book is so honest. Catherine is not perfect and doesn't always do the "right" thing when dealing with the people in her life who have disabilities. She is still selfish, thinks about what her friends might think, and just struggles with her feelings. That's what I loved most about this book. Catherine felt real.