My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete. Pictures by Shane W. Evans (US) - (Canada)
Finished: Feb. 19, 2010
First Published: Mar. 16, 2010
Genre: picture book, autism
We've always been together - even in Mommy's tummy - my twin brother, Charlie, and me.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Scholastic Canada.
Reason for Reading: My 9yo is autistic.
Comments: Actress Holly Robinson Peete writes this picture book along with her twelve-year-old daughter, Ryan, who is the fraternal twin of a brother with autism. The story mirrors their real life and is told from the point of view of a little girl whose brother, Charlie, is autistic. She describes how they are alike in looks and likes, then how they are different in looks and likes with the major difference being that Charlie can get very quiet and sometimes not talk. She then goes on to explain how her parents found out Charlie was autistic and what it is like to have an autistic brother accentuating how he is like everyone else, but there are times for her when it is difficult to have Charlie as a brother and other times when she wishes she could help him be more like her. But then there are unique things about Charlie that make him who he is, like his special way with animals and his shell collection.
The book does a very good job on an elementary level of describing an autistic child, showing that though they may be very quiet at times or sit and play by themselves they are not different than other children. They have things they love to do and want to play and have fun. They just need time for both. This book will help others relate to the autistic child whether they be the parent, relative or friend by getting an inside glimpse into the daily life of said child. Most of all the book celebrates family, togetherness and the many ways to say "I love you" without always using the words. The book is well written bringing acceptance and dignity showing this condition is not an illness but only a way of being.
The artwork must be mentioned. Shane W. Evans has created big, bright bold paintings that are pure joy to look at. The primary colours are used effectively. I love the facial expressions and the shape of the eyes make unique characters. The painting is textured, the brush strokes can be seen in the background and I love how he shows the curly hair on some characters by filling in the area with spirals.
My Brother Charlie will be greatly enjoyed by families with an autistic sibling and should be shared in elementary classrooms to bring awareness and acceptance of autistic children they meet on the playground and away from school.