Wednesday, July 30, 2008

review: Tacos Anyone?/Alguien Quiere Tacos?

Tacos Anyone?/Alguien Quiere Tacos? by Marvie Ellie. Illustrated by Jenny Loehr. Speech Kids, 2005 (978-933319-02-5) $16.95

Thomas is sad because his little brother Michael, who has autism, doesn't like to play with him. But after seeing Michael work with his therapist, Thomas understands better what Michael enjoys and happily "makes tacos" by rolling him in sofa cushions. "It was the first time Michael and I had played together in a long time." A final illustration shows the two boys smiling on the cushions together, about to play with one of the wooden peg puzzles Michael likes.

Narrated by Thomas (with text in both Spanish and English,) this story describes a lot of the activities occupational therapists use with children with autism and sensory needs: learning sign language, bouncing on balls, blowing whistles, and so on. Its obvious audience is brothers and sisters of autistic kids, and they may find it helps them think of ways to relate to their challenging siblings. I really like the happiness and promise of the ending, but the rest of the story might be a little dry to appeal to a more general audience; it could also use some notes for readers who aren't familiar with these activities and might wonder what they're all about.

Unsophisticated illustrations have strongly defined features and lots of crayon or colored pencil shading; it's not a style I find very attractive, but again, I like the enthusiasm depicted, as Michael eagerly says "Tado!" with an enormous smile. (5-8)

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