Friday, October 19, 2012

What we're reading (and loving) right now...

Click to order from 
 From Cynthia Lord's website :


If the bathroom door is closed, knock! (especially if Catherine has a friend over).

Say thank you when someone gives you a present (even if you don't like it).

Don't stand in front of the TV when other people are watching it.

A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts.

Some people think they know who you are, when really they don't.

No toys in the fishtank.
Available in audio from
Winner of:
Newbery Honor Medal
Schneider Family Book Award
Mitten Award (Michigan Library Association)
Great Lakes Great Books Award (Michigan)
Maine Student Book Award
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award (Vermont)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award
Great Stone Face Award (New Hampshire)
Buckeye Children's Book Award (Ohio)

“A heartwarming first novel.” Booklist

New York Public Library's 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

“Catherine is an appealing and believable character, acutely self-conscious and torn between her love for her brother and her resentment of his special needs. Middle-grade readers will recognize her longing for acceptance and be intrigued by this exploration of dealing with differences.” Kirkus Reviews

KidPost Book of the Week, Washington Post

"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.... A rewarding story that may well inspire readers to think about others' points of view." Publishers Weekly

Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts (NCTE)

"This is a story that depicts the impact of a needy child on an entire family very realistically. One of the treats in this book is that David echoes words rather than generating his own and he frequently speaks in lines he remembers from Arnold Lobel's Frog & Toad." Children's Literature - Joan Kindig, Ph.D.

Book of the Week, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)

"Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. . . this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter." School Library Journal

 Editors' Pick, HW Wilson Standard Catalog

"This is an absorbing tale about valuing people even when it's difficult, and it may encourage readers to consider the benefits and challenges of their own families and friends." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Accelerated Reader (AR) Title

"This is not only a great read, with a nice rhythm and easy style, but it is an important book that siblings of kids with special needs need to read." Kid Lit: Books and More For Kids and Teens

ALA Notable Children's Book

"The first-person narrative is very engaging, and readers will identify with Catherine's struggles and cheer for her at the end. This is a great book to help students gain some understanding about autism, while also providing a good read. The author is the mother of an autistic child. Recommended." Library Media Connection

Read On Wisconsin, Middle-School Pick

"[A]n honest and frequently funny portrayal of what it's like to have a sibling with autism at an age when being accepted is so important." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Nominated for state Kids' Choice Awards in: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pacific Northwest (voting together: Alaska, Alberta CA, British Columbia CA, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In 2000, I decided to write a middle-grade novel, and I followed the advice of "write what you know."  I have two children, one of whom has autism, and RULES explores that family dynamic.
David is based loosely upon my son when he was a young child.  Some incidents in the book came from real experience:  I was always rescuing toys from our fishtank and my son did love Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books and used to repeat lines from those stories to communicate.  However, most of the events, details, and characters in RULES came from my imagination. 
Jason was inspired by a boy I saw one day and have never forgotten.  I was waiting for my son to finish an appointment, and a boy came into the waiting room.  He was in a wheelchair and used a communication book.  I glanced up and made assumptions that were blown apart seconds later, when he and his mother had the most amazing and witty conversation.  She spoke out loud; he communicated by touching his pictures. 
All those threads of experience began weaving themselves into a story.  The first line I ever wrote on the first blank page was:  “At our house, we have a rule,” and the story, the characters, the title, all sprang from that seed.
I took the story as far as I could, and after many polishing passes and feedback from my critique partners, I looked through the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market to see who might be a good publishing match. 
I paused at Scholastic’s entry.  When I was growing up, my teacher would hand out Scholastic Book Clubs fliers, and my mother let me order 3 books each time.  I remember the excitement I felt: the coins rolling back and forth in the envelope as I walked up to hand it to the teacher, and those glassy-smooth covers and the crackling newness of the books when they came.  I still have some of the books I bought as a child through those book clubs, with my name written in big, loopy handwriting on the inside cover. 
But the line “1% of books by first-time authors” in the market book for Scholastic, was daunting.  My husband shrugged when I showed him and said, “Well, someone has to be that one percent, why not you?”
In November 2001, I got the phone call every writer dreams of receiving.  It was an editor at Scholastic saying she’d like to buy my book.  I was too excited to remember much about that call, but I think I said mostly intelligent things like, “Oh, um, wow! Yes, uh, OK.” 
Getting the call may sound like “The end,” but that was also a beginning, a corner-turning to a new hallway.  The revision process is a time of refining, of letting go and holding on, of re-imagining characters and events to bring them into sharper focus. 
It’s been a long road from that first “At our house, we have a rule” to this moment, but it’s also been a glorious discovery, a journey I am both humbled and amazed to have taken.

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