I was contacted recently regarding a new children’s book about Autism, “Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope; Handprints, Snowflakes and Play-dates.” The publisher offered me a free digital copy of the book in return for my honest and thorough review, and after reading the material – I was more than happy to jump on board!
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I am VERY picky about the books I encourage my children to read. While mundane picture books are always entertaining, I want something a bit more wholesome – and with a better message. A book that features multiple races, genders and situations… ones that reflect the real existence we are all trying to live.
A truly approachable and entertaining Children’s Book about Autism
“Stewie BOOM! and Princess Penelope; Handprints, Snowflakes and Play-Dates” written by Christine Bronstein encompasses all of those qualities, and more. I am not gushing because I received a free book (all my reviews are honest, even those that fall a bit short, like this one) but because this book deserves that accolades.
Young Princess Penelope is a typical girl with a loud family. She has two brothers, loving parents, family pets and a penchant for experiments. When her class learns about how people are different, not just in looks and sizes, but also in the way we think and what we like, she is charged with playing with someone new at recess. Eric, another boy in her class, is not her usual playmate, but their time at recess was fun and led to plans for a play-date.
That play-date is the heart and soul of this book. Eric is on the Autism Spectrum, or as the author eloquently puts it, the ‘handprint’ of his mind is on the spectrum. This straight forward, yet understandable way of presenting such a complicated and often delicate condition sets the stage for just how approachable this book truly is.
Princess Penelope and her brothers quickly learn that Eric is just a kid. He has likes, desires, dislikes, triggers and preferences, just like they do – though sometimes those likes and dislikes may seem extreme or even frightening. It’s a journey through discovery and through friendship, one that looks hard at reality and presents it in a way children can understand, without sugar coating it.
What there is to love
I appreciated everything about this book. From the colorful yet somewhat soft illustrations by Karen L. Young, to the unspoken attitude those same illustrations portray; like the science kit sitting near the doll stroller or a fairy crown perched near a Computer Engineering book. You see Princess Penelope wrestling with her brothers then indulging in a slime experiment, followed closely by the multi racial makeup of her classroom. Each picture plays on the story, adding the layers the narrative only hints at. As for the narrative itself – it is kid friendly and aimed at honesty. Penelope and her brothers are learning something incredibly important, and through their eyes, your child will too.
There is a learning experience for parents too. From the introduction page:
Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder
Every second, our brains work to understand the things we see, smell, hear, taste, touch and experience. But when someone’s brain interprets these things differently, it can make it harder for them to communicate and know what others are trying to say to them. It can also make everyday sights and sounds very intense. But, just like everyone else, people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some have incredible strengths and some have difficulty with everyday tasks.
Once the story is concluded, the author goes on to offer tips to welcome Special Needs (SN) families for a playdate as well as Tips for Special Needs Families.
Overall, this is a fantastic and approachable children’s book about Autism. Considering that recent statistics show the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at 1 in 68 or 1.46%, the chances are high that your child will encounter someone with a different mind ‘handprint’, or have that ‘handprint’ themselves. Either way, this book deserves a spot on your bookshelf.
You can find it on Amazon, here is my affiliate link:
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