Happy National Autism Awareness Month!
To celebrate, here is a book that shows a great example of what goes on in the mind of a different brain.
For anyone who knows someone on the autism spectrum
Charlie wishes his life could be as predictable and simple as chicken nuggets. And it usually is. He has his clean room, his carefully organized bird books, art supplies, his favorite foods, and comfortable routines.
But his perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. Now his life consists of living with Gram, trips to the hospital, and wishing things were back to normal.
When his father heads from California to Virginia for further medical treatment, Charlie reluctantly travels cross-country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. Along the way, he decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father had been hoping to see someday, then maybe, just maybe, everything might turn out okay.
Best road trip story since Road Trip by Gary and Jim Paulsen. This story has so much more depth than I thought it would. It’s always nice when a story is better than you expected.
I have a problem with reading stories about people who are autistic. That problem being when they get anxious, I get anxious. When I was a kid and when I read a story where a character gets hurt, I felt the pain. The things that make Charlie anxious, to me, are completely understandable. He’s being forced into a cross-country road trip, has to handle multiple unfamiliar situations, and deal with little twin brothers and a teenage sister who don’t show much empathy towards him. But even through all that, he manages to come out the other side. But don’t worry, Charlie’s anxiety and social issues aren’t the main themes of this story. There is so much more.
Charlie talks about chicken nuggets so much that I started to crave them myself. I read in the Acknowledgements that this book was initially named ‘Chicken Nuggets Across America”. Personally, that title would’ve gotten my attention faster than “Someday Birds.”
Charlie got to see some really cool birds on his trip. Like a Great Horned Owl, a Turkey Vulture, etc., see the pictures below:
My favorite bird is the Potoo, see picture below:
Yes, that is what it is called, and yes, those are its real eyes. Looks like a puppet, right? And that’s the reason I love it.
I have an incredibly long list of books I want to read, and I didn’t know if I would ever get to this one. Luckily, I was given the opportunity to meet Sally J. Pla in person, so her books sprung to the top of my list. You’re probably wondering, ‘how did a lowly book reviewer like me get a chance to meet the author of two great books?’ The answer to that question is connections! I got to ask her many questions, and here are a few. Heads up, the answers to the questions aren’t word for word.
What inspired you to write this story?
This story was inspired by family road trips Sally took with her husband and three sons.
For the full story, click link: https://sallyjpla.com/2018/09/re-road-trips-comfy-prisons-chicken-nuggets-etc/
How did you decide on all their destinations?
Sally and her family have been to all the destinations in this story except Las Vegas. She used Google maps to route their way across the United States.
Is there really a Best Restroom Award or did you make that up? (Read the book to understand this joke)
There really is a Best Restroom Award, and the one featured in the story is accurate.
Helpful Hint: Have a United States map close by while reading to keep track of where they are.
As a bonus, here’s a link to the book trailer of this story:
This week’s Weird but True Fact about Chicken Nuggets
Before chicken McNuggets, McDonald’s in the U.S. briefly sold “onion nuggets.”