Can You See Me?

Scholastic. Mar. 2020. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338608915.
Gr 4-8–Starting sixth grade can be a little scary for anyone. For Tally, hiding her autism while trying to adapt to a whole new set of middle school expectations is especially challenging. Adapting isn’t really Tally’s thing. Her new uniform itches, her shoes pinch, and the crowded, noisy hallways are impossible to navigate. It would be easier if she could be Tiger Girl, but she knows that disappearing behind her rubber tiger mask is something she can’t do if she wants to fit in. She also pushes down stimming behaviors like flapping her hands because, while they help her cope, they also make her stand out. Her elementary school friends are all in different classes, making new friends and developing new interests, leaving Tally feeling abandoned. She pours out her frustrations in journal entries that are interspersed throughout the narrative. Each entry is broken down with a situation, Tally’s anxiety rating, Tally’s Autism Facts, and how they affected the situation. She sometimes offers the pros and cons of having a particular spectrum-associated behavior. The narrative and journal entries combine to give readers an authentic depiction of what it is like to walk in Tally’s shoes. The ending offers hope that there is space for children like Tally to be themselves. Author notes are included from co-authors Westcott, a teacher and special needs coordinator, and Scott, a writer, blogger, and autistic student.
VERDICT Give this to children on the spectrum and families, teachers, and classmates of children on the spectrum. In short, give to everyone, because a little understanding can go a long way.

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