Sunday, January 13, 2013

Spaghetti Is NOT a Finger Food-Blog Book Tour

I'd like to share with you a little bit about a great new book Bubby, and I just read, Spaghetti Is NOT a Finger Food (and other life lessons) by Jodi Carmichael.

When Little Pickle Press's sales professional, Khadijah Lacina emailed me, and asked if I would like to be part of the blog stop tour featuring Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food I was thrilled to join.  I thought that the idea of a blog book tour was one that seemed like a smart way for an author to promote their book in a very meaningful, fun way, but also one that is environmentally friendly as well.  I really liked the green policies of L.P.P. 

I was also excited to share the reading experience with my eleven year old autistic son. I often find that many books about Asperger Syndrome, and autism are geared toward a much younger, or much older audience than his age. I was happy to see one that was just right for him.




T-Rex
illustrated by Sarah Ackerly
Spaghetti Is Not a Finger Food is about a young man named Conner who is just a little different than his peers.  The story begins with Conner arriving to school to find the class gecko, T-Rex stuck inside the radiator.  He feels this is an emergency, and interrupts his teacher numerous times to tell her.  Not only does he want her to know about the urgency of the situation, but he wants her to know all the facts about Geckos.  The teacher wasn't as eager to know all about Geckos, as Conner assumed she might be, and he got sent to the hall for interrupting.  This scenario played out in different ways through out the book, as Conner found himself in one misunderstanding after another.  Something that many autistic kids, and their parents can relate to.  

The author did a great job at really giving a lot of insight into how Conner was seeing, and sensing the world from his point of view.  There were numerous opportunities for me to stop, and discuss the situations described in the book with Bubby while reading. We talked about the social situations that came up in the story, as well as it opened up a discussion about Bubby's sensory experiences, and calming techniques. The sensory descriptions were awesome, and provides a lot of ways for even non-autistic people to understand what it might be like to be Conner.


Poster illustrated by Sarah Ackerly
The journey through the story ends with a lovely surprise that made my son smile.  It was something that he, and quite a few people on the autism spectrum can really relate to.  I think this book had a lot of valuable moments to stop, and really share with your child, but it also ends with a warm, positive tone that  my son will carry with him.  


33 comments:

  1. Thank you for this wonderful review, Shawna. I'm glad you included an image of the poster, it is SO cute. I also really liked the way Jodi was able to let us see how Connor experienced his day, giving us insight into how his mind works. That was so valuable to me. I've learned so much about Asperger's since starting this tour!
    We'll be stopping over at your FB page as well. I have heard so many good things about it!

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  2. Good Morning Shawna. I'm so happy both you and your son liked Spaghetti. The illustrator, Sarah Ackerley, "got" my vision of Connor in a way that I never expected. I am thrilled that she captured the emotion of every scene. My three favourites are; the spaghetti scene, the scene where he's skipping down the hall; and when the dog house falls on his head.

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    1. My son enjoyed the photos. They really appeal to kids his age as they read a long. I know my son flips through new books before he decides to read them, and makes much of his decision based on whether or not he likes the images. He laughed out loud at some of the illustrations in Spaghetti!

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    2. YAY! It's great to hear that our audience likes them us much as we do. It's hard not to be biased, but I think Sarah is incredible. She actually turned down a deal with one of the big publishers to illustrate Spaghetti.

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  3. Great Review!
    To Shawna, Khadijah and Jodi, our three guides today on a blog book tour highlighting “Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food” written by Jodi Carmichael and fabulously illustrated by Sarah Ackerly:

    Thank you all for getting together this morning (Sunday, around 7:00 AM! !) to cheer Shawna’s great review on and to focus on the writer and the illustrator of a wonderful children’s book. You all have really demonstrated to the rest of us how good tour planning makes for a great trip!

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  4. Jodi- I was wondering how much you knew about Asperger's before you started writing the book. Did it require very much research?

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    1. I knew quite a bit, but I did a lot of research using books by Tony Attwood, GRASP's Michael John Carley's, and Temple Grandin. Then I had two child psychologists read it for accuracy. Dr. April Buchanan actually read it three times; each time at a different point in the editing process. She was even willing to write a book blurb about Spaghetti, which was quite an honor.

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  5. I'm familiar with Temple Grandin from from her work discussing animal rights. I didn't even realize she wrote about autism and related issues. Since reading Spaghetti I've been thinking about kids I grew up with, and seeing some of them in a whole new light.

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  6. Great post Shawna. I am glad to see that Bubby enjoyed the book.

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  7. Temple is an animal rights advocate and also has autism. Here is a great quote taken from her website about her.

    "Temple is my hero. She has my vote for the person who has provided the greatest advance in our understanding of autism this century."

    -Dr. Tony Attwood, world renowned expert on autism spectrum disorders.

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  8. That's fascinating. I didn't even know about the autism. I haven't read a lot of her work, though, so it's not surprising.
    Do public schools have a support system for kids with autism or ADHD or similar conditions? I wonder how many children are never even diagnosed and if they get lost in the system.

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    1. Public Schools - this is a hot topic, for sure.

      I live in Canada, so what occurs here varies from province to province and sometimes even from school to school. I know it also differs greatly from the States. This is what I know, from my experience.

      With Autism Spectrum Disorder there is support through resource teachers, educational assistants, and individualized education plans.

      Training is ongoing and teachers and schools are rising to meet the needs of a growing population, especially in early years.

      When it comes to ADHD, that is more up for debate. Funding is hard to get, unless there are severe behavioural challenges as well. But, I do know that teachers are open to helping, adapting, and encouraging children with ADHD. Again, this is based on what I have seen and experienced.

      Do kids get lost in the system? Most definitely and not always because a school is failing that child. Every experience is so vastly different. I've seen very quiet children, who desperately need help get overlooked, because they aren't on a teacher's radar.

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    2. P.S. I was that quiet day-dreaming ADHD'er who no one thought was struggling. I skipped most of the last few months of grade 12 because sitting in class every day and focusing was just too much. It was a huge problem for me in university where the lectures went on for 90 uninterrupted minutes. Sheer torture.

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    3. Public schools is such a general subject. I find it hard to generalize. So many factors play into the experience. ASD kids are very unique in how they learn, so there is no one size fits all, which I find to be the most difficult for the p.s system. Some are great, some are mediocre, and some are very poor at meeting the needs of their different learners. I have a profoundly ASD son in an autistics only classroom who is thriving in that environment. My older son, Bubby who is diagnosed with HFA is struggling very much at the moment in school. There seems to not be a place for him, as he needs support, but not to the extent that Beans does in a self-contained classroom.

      I have a formal diagnosis of Asperger's that I obtained when I was 30. I definitely flew under the radar my whole life. I was also the quiet kid that sat in the back of the classroom. My issues weren't as noticeable until I was in my teens, and the social world really stepped up the pace. I very much related to the character in the book with the counting objects, tiles, ect... I could entertain myself for long periods of time very easily as a child. I also have the EXACT same sensory experiences as the boy in the book. I like smooth things, and symmetrical things. I liked to line up objects, because they looked so calming in nice smooth lines.

      I did not have the impulsive issues, and neither does my son, but my ADHD husband does. He was so the kid that climbed things he wasn't supposed to, hit kids that invaded his space, and spent more than his fair share of time in the office! He is now an excellent tree trimmer, so those impulsive, quick thinking, daring characteristics can really be an advantage in certain ways. I would recommend this book to ADHD kids as well as ASD kids. I feel it covers a variety of differences in a way that a lot of people can relate to.

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    4. We could probably have an entire blog site dedicated to public schools and still not cover every topic or every person's experiences.

      Suffice it to say, every family needs to find the right schooling for their children - public, private, individualized programs, or home schooling.

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  9. I just saw that the book giveaway is LIVE over at Inner Aspie's Facebook page! Remember, you don't need a Kindle to read the book.

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    1. I will correct that in the give away thread.

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  10. Thanks for this great review Shawna! I really appreciate the way you pick up on Jodi's excellent ability to write with all 5 senses, "The sensory descriptions were awesome, and provides a lot of ways for even non-autistic people to understand what it might be like to be Conner." I couldn't agree more! This is definitely one of the elements that made this book such a wonderful eye-opener for me. Thanks again for helping spread the word about this great book!

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    1. Sensory is sort of the deal with kids with AS, as it often is with people with ADHD.

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  11. I wonder if you have sent Temple a copy of the book. She might endorse it, and wouldn't that be cool! What an awesome woman. I love this book, btw. I think it will resonate with anyone who feels a bit different from mainstream.

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    1. Now that is a crazy, awesome good idea!

      Guess who is reading it, as I type this?

      Tony Attwood. Yup. That Tony Attwood.

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  12. Hey Shawna,

    So here's the deal with the giveaway with Spaghetti:

    The format is for the Kindle, but if you download the kindle app or cloud reader you can watch it on your ipad, pc or mac.

    Come the end of Feb/early March it will launch on iOS, KOBO, NOOK, and sony. And once we get a big order - hello print books!

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  13. "We talked about the social situations that came up in the story, as well as it opened up a discussion about Bubby's sensory experiences, and calming techniques. The sensory descriptions were awesome, and provides a lot of ways for even non-autistic people to understand what it might be like to be Conner." Shawna, I loved that this book was able to spark conversations. It is one of the main things we strive to do at LPP, and one of the many reasons why we fell in love with Spaghetti the moment we read it!

    Thank you for supporting our BBT and helping to spread the word!

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    1. And Cameron, think of the conversations that may spark when read to classrooms of children. I'll be soon making my first classroom visits and reading Spaghetti to kids from grade 2 to 6. I'm curious to hear their thoughts - especially how they differ in each age range.

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    2. It did spark a lot of conversation. When I sat down to do the review, I thought about what I look for in a book that I want to share with my son about his differences. Since I have AS, I think in details, that are all about function. Did this book work for us? Did it provide a good example of what it means to be autistic? Did it talk about ASD/differences in a positive way? I think it did all of those things. I wanted to convey that to potential readers.

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    3. Shawna, I am thrilled to hear that. When I wrote this book, I had the great fortune to read it to my eldest's class. She was in grade 2 at the time. We got to talk about Connor, his struggles, even plot development. It was an amazing experience. I wanted people to really understand that Connor wasn't being difficult, but that they way he saw the world was different and that created challenges. From the onset, I wanted him to end up the king of the school - I just needed to find a way to do that. lol

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  14. Thank you for the informative interview, Shawna. Giving examples of how you used the book when you spoke to Buddy is such a gift. Your examples frame and inspire adults how to use the book as talking points. The book tells a powerful story using humor and is already making a difference!

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  15. Thank you for this thoughtful review Shawna! I think that you are right when you say that there are not many books geared toward your son's age group, but rather much older or younger groups. It's so uplifting to hear that LPP and Jodi were able to provide a story that was just right for him. I hope that this book finds its' way into the hands of readers from all over and sparks the same conversations that it did in your home. This is really something for Jodi to be proud of, I know that LPP sure is!!

    - Emily

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    1. Hi Emily,

      Thank you for your kind words. I'm getting all sorts of great comments on twitter and I am in the middle of booking another school visit via Skype - this time to Saskatchewan. Just think of all those kids that we can reach both AS and non AS.

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  16. Shawna,

    Thank you so much for being such a gracious blog host. I couldn't ask for a better site to end our blog tour on.

    Take care,
    Jodi

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