Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete


An honest and moving picture book, My Brother Charlie, captures the essence of autism from the perspective of a twin sister. The authors, Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, wrote the story based on their personal experience. This mother-daughter team offers a realistic depiction of autism, highlighting the gifts an affected child has to offer without glossing over the challenges.

Like many twins, Charlie and Callie have a lot in common, but they also are very different in some very significant ways. While Callie loves to talk, Charlie is often quiet. Also, Callie has a loving nature but Charlie’s does not display outward signs of affection. Loving words are “…locked deep inside my brother.”

Many mothers of autistic children sense that their child is different, often from the time of infancy. Such is the case with Charlie’s mom, despite the fact that a diagnosis does not follow for quite some time. Having an official name for his disorder doesn’t really change what Charlie’s sister and his mother have already come to understand about him.

Charlie is a bright, active and inquisitive child. He has many talents and interests like other little kids his age. He loves to climb, swim, and collect things. But sadly, he lacks the ability to socialize and connect with people most of the time. Laughing, making friends, communicating--these are all things Charlie wishes he could do. Often he seems disconnected and far away in his mind, and he can “ruin the best playdates.”

But then there are the times when Charlie does demonstrate love for his sister through his actions, and even conjures up the words to match. Those special moments are among the many blessings Callie counts when she thinks about her twin brother Charlie.

My Brother Charlie is a beautifully written story about life with an autistic sibling. The book is highly effective as told through the words of a young child. The story does not get lost in complex terminology, nor is there any focus on trying to “fix” Charlie. Rather, it is an endearing tale of acceptance, love, and recognition of a loving soul who has so much to give the world around him. If you have an autistic child in your life, I highly recommend that you share this book with his or her brothers, sisters, cousins, and other children who are affected by autism.

Sweet Reading!Karen Gallagher

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