Monday, November 22, 2010

Pedro's Whale

Autism and inclusion expert Paula Kluth, with Patrick Schwarz and illustrator Justin Canha bring us an important book for children, Pedro's Whale. Pedro is a little boy on the autism spectrum who has a special interest in whales. I identify with Pedro; I love cetaceans, too. (I was a docent on whale watch boats during several whale watch seasons when we lived on the West Coast.)

Pedro's Whale is a wonderful story that helps children and adults understand the extreme attachment to a special interest that are common in individuals on the autism spectrum. The story helps readers understand ways in which we can all use those interests as a bridge to relationships and learning.

The illustations are really nice. Illustrator Justin Canha is a young man on the autism spectrum, and he does a beautiful job putting pictures to the story.

Pedro's Whale is based on a true story.

I attended a day-long workshop with Paula Kluth a couple of years ago; she mentioned a new book was about to be published, called, Just Give Him The Whale! I haven't read that book, but Kluth gave us some background during the conference. Apparently, at the beginning of a new school year, Pedro's teacher thought he was too big to carry a toy whale all day long and she would not let him have it. His affect and behavior changed drastically, and Kluth was called in to help with the situation. When she learned that his toy had been banned, his safety net, her answer was, simply, "Just Give Him The Whale!" And Kluth and Schwarz wrote a book for teachers (and parents and homeschooling families) about using those fascinations and special interests in education and relationships.

Pedro's Whale is the version for children, complete with a page of suggestions and hints for how to use the book with groups of children. It's a 26 page hardback book with a simple story that 'normalizes' special interests for typical children, a story that gives important insight and perspective taking about autism and special interests to typical peers in group (school, co-op, Sunday School, camp etc) settings. List price is $18.95.

Brookes Publishing sent me a copy of Pedro's Whale for review purposes. I am not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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