Today, December 3rd, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities. A big trend in both teen and juvenile fiction is to include characters with special needs. The new teen book that is getting plenty of buzz right now is Colin Fischer, written by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz.
Stentz is not only on the Autism Spectrum himself, he has two children who are as well. Fourteen-year-old Colin Fischer’s ability to pay close attention to detail gives him Sherlock Holmes level powers of deduction. This makes him the perfect person to solve a crime involving a gun at his school. Colin keeps his notebook with him at all times and records his observations while he tries to survive the “typical” world. He deals with bullies. In in the first chapter we witness him getting a swirly. This is a great first person account of what it is like to be on the Autism Spectrum.
In Fighting for Dontae by Mike Castan (a 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers nomination), Javier is a tough kid who is in a gang. When he is assigned to help out in his middle school’s special needs class, he thinks his social life is over. Javier finds he really enjoys helping Dontae, a boy with both physical and mental disabilities.
In Pinned by Sharon G. Flake, Autumn and Adonis are both teens dealing with disabilities. Autumn has a learning disability that makes reading a challenge. Adonis is in a wheelchair. Flake tells this story in the characters’ alternating voices. This is a strong story about struggle, friendship and finding your strengths.
In The Cruisers: A Star Is Born by 1994 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner Walter Dean Myers, LaShonda has an opportunity to make her dreams of costume design come true. In order to pursue this, she will have to leave her autistic brother. They live in a group home together.
For those of you who loved Trueman’s 2001 Printz Honor book Stuck In Neutral, your sequel, Life Happens Next by Terry Trueman, has come.
In Blind Spot by Laura Ellen, 16-year-old Roz has macular degeneration, an eye disease that robs a her of her central vision. She must help solve a murder.
— Kris Hickey, currently reading Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz
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