Cynthia Lord is the award-winning author of Rules, a Newbery Honor Book and a Schneider Family Book Award winner, as well as the critically acclaimed Half a Chance and A Handful of Stars. She made her picture-book debut with Hot Rod Hamster, which won several awards, including the Parents' Choice Award, and is the author of the Shelter Pet Squad chapter book series. She lives in Maine with her family. Visit her at cynthialord.com.
Gr 4-7-Twelve-year-old Catherine has conflicting feelings about her younger brother, David, who is autistic. While she loves him, she is also embarrassed by his behavior and feels neglected by their parents. In an effort to keep life on an even keel, Catherine creates rules for him ("It's okay to hug Mom but not the clerk at the video store"). Each chapter title is also a rule, and lots more are interspersed throughout the book. When Kristi moves in next door, Catherine hopes that the girl will become a friend, but is anxious about her reaction to David. Then Catherine meets and befriends Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic who uses a book of pictures to communicate, she begins to understand that normal is difficult, and perhaps unnecessary, to define. Rules of behavior are less important than acceptance of others. Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. Her love for her brother is as real as are her frustrations with him. Lord has candidly captured the delicate dynamics in a family that revolves around a child's disability. Set in coastal Maine, this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The appealing, credible narrator at the heart of Lord's debut novel will draw in readers, as she struggles to find order and balance in her life. Her parents place 12-year-old Catherine in charge of her younger autistic brother more often than she would like. Taking solace in art, the girl fills the back of her sketchbook with rules she has established for David, "so if my someday-he'll-wake-up-a-regular-brother wish doesn't ever come true, at least he'll know how the world works, and I won't have to keep explaining things." Sorely missing her best friend, who is away for the summer, and realizing that the girl who has just moved in next door is not a kindred spirit, Catherine devises some of her own self-protective rules ("When you want to get out of answering something, distract the questioner with another question"). In the able hands of the author, mother of an autistic child, Catherine's emotions come across as entirely convincing, especially her alternating devotion to and resentment of David, and her guilt at her impatience with him. Through her artwork, the heroine gradually opens up to Jason, a wheelchair-bound peer who can communicate only by pointing to words on cards. As she creates new cards that expand Jason's ability to express his feelings, their growing friendship enables Catherine to do the same. A rewarding story that may well inspire readers to think about others' points of view. Ages 9-12. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Praise for Rules
Newbery Honor book
Schneider Family Book Award
ALA Notable Book Selection "Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak... A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter." -- School Library Journal