My Brother Charlie

( 10 )


From bestselling author and actress Holly Robinson Peete--a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on Holly's son, who has autism.

"Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can't do well, there are plenty more things that he's good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play...

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From bestselling author and actress Holly Robinson Peete--a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on Holly's son, who has autism.

"Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can't do well, there are plenty more things that he's good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows.

Actress and national autism spokesperson Holly Robinson Peete collaborates with her daughter on this book based on Holly's 10-year-old son, who has autism.

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  • Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Peete
    Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Peete  

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
Charlie and Callie share a special bond as twins. They are alike yet different. As Callie tells the story about her brother who is two minutes older, she reveals that he has autism. In a sisterly, warmhearted manner, Callie provides her view of her brother as she tells about Charlie's many special talents like the way he handles their dog, Harriett. She describes how Charlie's world is different when he communicates; she tries to understand his differences with sisterly patience and love. Callie's story reveals the compassion and love of a family who values Charlie for who he is. They celebrate his growing list of accomplishments. From the story, the lines "Charlie has autism. But autism doesn't have Charlie" are a part of the heart-rich and passionate theme. Illustrations warmly fill the pages of this loving story based on the authors' experiences. At the back of the book, the authors' intents are explained. This story helps to shed some light on autism and how one family faces the challenges and celebrates progresses. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—Twins Callie and Charlie have a lot in common, but they are also very different: Charlie has autism. Callie narrates the story, describing what autism is and exploring the issues that come along with it. The theme is of love, patience, and acceptance. Endnotes give a few basic facts for children unfamiliar with the disorder. The authors, a mother-daughter team, based this story on personal experience. Evans's bright, mixed-media illustrations skillfully depict the family's warmth and concern. Pair this with Ouisie Shapiro's Autism and Me: Sibling Stories (Albert Whitman, 2009) to raise awareness and understanding of autism. This title should have a place in most library collections.—Laura Butler, Mount Laurel Library, NJ
Publishers Weekly
This mother-daughter author team base their thoughtful and moving story on their experiences living with Ryan’s autistic brother, RJ. Callie, a candid narrator whose twin brother is autistic, explains that “Charlie’s brain works in a special way.” She mentions the boy’s strong will (“When Charlie wants something, nothing stops him. Even when it’s dangerous”) and tendency to withdraw into his own world, acknowledging that “there are days when it’s hard to be Charlie’s sister.” Yet she also documents Charlie’s talents and the good times they share. Her often-silent brother has taught Callie important lessons, among them “love doesn’t always come from what you say. It can also come from what you do.” Throughout, Callie demonstrates maturity and loyalty: “We love Charlie strong. We watch over him with the might of angels. We have to.” Equally expressive, Evans’s (When Gorilla Goes Walking) mixed-media art features closeup images of the siblings and their parents and conveys the wide range of emotions all experience. The authors’ postscripts offer background and advice for families dealing with someone with autism. Ages 6–10. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
Mother and daughter co-authors write about the experience of having an autistic child in the family. Callie, Charlie's twin sister, talks directly to readers, telling them how she and her brother are alike and about the fundamental differences that led her mother to seek medical advice for Charlie. Callie very plainly talks about the joys and frustrations of having Charlie for a brother and emotionally reveals the many ways Charlie has of showing his family the "I love yous" that his autism tries to lock inside. Most evident is the pride Callie has in Charlie. She clearly sees him as a person, with personality and interests, who is smart and caring. "If you ever get to meet my brother, you'll feel lucky to be his friend." Endnotes from the authors tell more of the Peete family story. Evans's mixed-media artwork employs a lot of texture, adding patterning and interest to the simple, uncluttered design. Full-bleed illustrations and up-close views of the characters make this a great choice for group sharing. A seldom-seen perspective on autism delivered concisely and with empathy. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545094665
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 109,071
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.92 (w) x 11.24 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Holly Robinson Peete is the author of the 2006 Quill Award Sports Book of the Year, GET YOUR OWN DAMN BEER--I'M WATCHING THE GAME: A WOMAN'S GUIDE TO LOVING PRO FOOTBALL, based on her 14 years of NFL wifedom--she is married to Rodney Peete, ex-quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Holly is most known for her roles on "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" and "21 Jump Street." Holly and Rodney founded the HollyRod foundation, dedicated to providing medical, physical, and emotional support to those suffering with debilitating life circumstances, especially Parkinson’s Disease.
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Read an Excerpt

We’ve always been together—even in mommy’s tummy, my twin brother, Charlie and I.

We still share lots of things:

Curly hair and brown eyes.

How much we love hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Rolling in the grass.

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Interviews & Essays

When Autism Strikes Home: It's a Family Affair

By Holly Robinson Peete

I experienced the elation every mother feels when she holds her newborns for the first time. When my twins were born, it was a double blessing — two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, both as sweet as their butterscotch cheeks.

RJ, my oldest son, was born two minutes before his sister, Ryan. Like many twins, mine were close from the very beginning. It was as if they had a language all their own. Even as infants, they seemed to understand each other's impulses and desires. When RJ cried, Ryan cried too. When Ryan wanted milk, so did RJ. When something happened to cause one of them giggle or gurgle, the other one giggled and gurgled along.

When RJ and Ryan began to talk, the beauty of language swept them up into the joys of making words and expressing themselves to me and to each other. While many parents can't wait to hear their children say "Mama" or "Da-da," RJ's very first word was "cow." Delighted with himself, RJ turned this into a singsong: "Cow, cow, cow!"

Ryan would join in, and the two of them were a chorus of "cow, cow, cow!" It didn't matter to me and my husband, Rodney, that our twins were talking about a farm animal before they were calling out to us. What was most important — and wonderful to witness — was that RJ and Ryan were both very talkative toddlers who were hitting their developmental milestones right on time.

Then, one day, when the twins were just two years old, all the chatty fun ended very abruptly. It seemed as if a plug had been pulled on RJ's joyous ability to speak and giggle with his sister. Ryan's development continued typically. She pointed at stars in the sky, birds, and high-flying planes. But RJ had changed. He'd become withdrawn, sullen, and distant. He was locked up in a place I couldn't reach, though I tried to rouse him by calling his name loudly when I wanted to get his attention. I took to screaming, mostly out of feeling helpless.

"RJ, RJ, RJ!" I would call.

After taking RJ to a series of specialists, we got the diagnosis that RJ had autism. It was the year 2000. RJ and Ryan had turned three. The medical community defines autism as a neurobiological disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued some startling statistics on the disorder: 1 in 110 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

When I learned of these statistics, I asked myself why my child had to be "the one." My husband and I were angry and confused and felt powerless to help RJ. This was underscored by members of the medical community and our social circle who didn't fully understand autism and its effects.

I will always remember what Rodney and I have come to call the "never" day. After enduring a battery of tests for RJ, we sat with a specialist who told us our son would never speak to us like a "normal" child, that he would never engage in real conversation with us or Ryan, and that he would never say "I love you" without being prompted.

Well — I have never experienced such pessimism from a doctor! When we met with her, it was a chilly afternoon (made even colder by the woman's icy office and less-than-warm bedside manner).

Some time after that meeting, Rodney and I made a decision — we would never allow someone to rob us of hope of a meaningful life for RJ and never, ever give up on finding the best treatments for him. Thankfully, soon after that awful day, we were blessed with a team of caring professionals who have rallied around our family and RJ. We call these men and women "Team RJ" and have taken to chanting, "Go, Team RJ!"

At age thirteen, RJ has grown into one of the loveliest and most charming kids! He's intelligent, playful, thoughtful, and funny. He's an ace swimmer and can play the piano and guitar with passion and verve. Adolescence has brought with it some new hurdles, but our boy has checked so many of those nevers off of his list.

Like any siblings, RJ and Ryan have had their challenging times, but the two of them are as close as ever. And they're back to talk, talk, talking — and sharing that special connection that twins have. We have two younger sons, Robinson, age six, and Roman, age eight, and two dogs, Harriet and Freddie. So we're a busy and boisterous family.

When Ryan and RJ were in the fourth grade, Ryan discovered that other kids and their parents had very little knowledge about autism and its affects on individuals and families. Ryan was constantly sticking up for RJ at school, and I found myself frequently fielding questions from other parents who just didn't know any better. For example, one mom worried that autism was contagious, so would refuse to invite RJ to playdates!

This is when Ryan came to Rodney and me, and showed us a wonderful program she'd developed on her own, called "Ryan's Autism 101" — a checklist of very practical advice and facts about autism that Ryan shared with our family, then invited Rodney and me to present to her classmates. We now offer "Ryan's Autism 101" to families struggling with a new diagnosis of autism and to those who have no autism in their immediate families but who have friends or schoolmates affected by autism. These ideas are outlined in the children's book I coauthored with my daughter, entitled My Brother Charlie. There is also helpful information in a book for fathers by my husband, Rodney Peete, entitled Not My Boy: A Father, a Son, and One Family's Journey with Autism.

Here are some ideas we have found most helpful.

• Social connection can be challenging for people with autism. If someone who has autism doesn't respond or make eye contact right away when you speak to them, it doesn't mean they're being rude. Often they don't like to be touched. Don't take it personally. Help them by being extra kind. Go the distance. Don't give up on your chance to make a friend.

• Many have trouble making friends, but it's even harder for those with autism. Include people with autism even more than you would others. If you give them time, you'll discover that they're just human beings with real feelings. And, like every human being, they want to be included even if they cannot verbally express it.

• We are all special in our own ways. Rather than point out what someone doesn't do well, focus on what they do well. Explore and praise the strengths, and acknowledge that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

• People with autism can be exceptionally smart, but their brains are wired differently. It can take them longer to process information. Please be extra patient.

• If you see a child struggling or having a tantrum in a public place, such as a supermarket or airport, don't judge. Often that child is not being "naughty" but might have autism. Offer a smile or support to a mom or dad who could really use it!

• For more information, contact the HollyRod Foundation, an organization to help children with autism gain access to affordable treatments and therapies. HollyRod Foundation, 9250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite LL15, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

Remember, a person may have autism, but autism doesn't have them.

Actress, Author, and Advocate Holly Robinson Peete has devoted her life and career to the service of others. She is a board member of Autism Speaks, and travels internationally to advocate on behalf of autism causes. She has worked tirelessly to help families everywhere who are raising children with autism. Ms. Peete is the wife of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, and the working mother of four children. Inspired by the journey of her dad's struggle with Parkinson's disease, and by her son's autism, Ms. Peete and her husband founded the HollyRod Foundation, dedicated to providing compassionate care to those suffering with debilitating life circumstances like Parkinson's disease and autism. She is currently a cohost of CBS's The Talk, the new hit daytime talk show with an emphasis on motherhood.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Highly recommended for any family with children dealing with a sibling's autism diagnosis.

    My son's doctor read this book to my daughter in an attempt to help her understand and deal with her brother's diagnosis. She seemed to warm to it, so I ordered it, and now she and her other brother choose it often as a bedtime story! It is almost harshly honest at certain points, but from a sibling's point of view I find it refreshing and helpful. Sometimes, my kids get tired of being nice and just need to say, "this stinks". The book then turns around and gives all of the positives. Very good at pointing out that different doesn't mean less wonderful. However, if you're dealing with any sort of non-verbal or limited verbal autism, be prepared to cry at some point. I have been very happy that I ordered it. Definitely recommend!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2010

    My Brother Charlie

    This is a lovely picture book with a story that shows the disappointments and joys of having a sibling who is autistic. Children with autistic siblings will easily relate to the story. Children without much knowledge about autism will get an easy to understand introduction to autism. Great for classroom use, too!

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    A Sweet Story

    Our Grandson was just diaganosed with being on the spectrum of Autism. Because it was caught so early , in the last 6 months, a boy who was not speaking at all and has had alot of therapy is excelling in hundreds of way. This book is a story of hope and understanding of Autism and how it can affect the siblings in the family. WE were going thru 10 weeks of training on how to handle different situations with our Grandson. I let the teacher read this book during a break and she welled up with tears. I gave the book to our Grandson's older sister. She understands that he has this, but not exactly what its all about or How it may make him different. We hope the book will help her to understand better how he may be different. We loved the book

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    My Brother Charlie

    This book was informative and helped me to better understand autism and how it affects siblings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Inspirational Story Told by the Sister of a Child Who Has Autism

    This story would be very helpful for any family with a child who has autism. Holly Robinson Peete and her daughter, Ryan Peete have created an inspirational story for families with children of all ages. In making the story relatable to any age range, the reader is able to better understand what life is like when living with a brother, sister, son, or daughter who has autism. Very inspirational for any family member having a hard time understanding what is happening with their child, grandchild, sibling, etc.

    Autism speaks, it's time to listen.

    If you have a child who has autism, remember this: Your child may have autism, but autism does not have your child.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    My Brother Charlie was educational and Inspirational

    My Goddaughter truly enjoyed this book. The characters were motivating and educational with a valuable lesson that portrayed a great story line. Illustrations were very easy to understand for the age group that it was focused on. I enjoyed reading it with her and helping her to understand the characters.

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  • Posted April 7, 2010

    Great for siblings or friends

    My son received this for his birthday. He is five and his autistic brother is 6, the book was a great way for me to explain to my youngest son that he is not the only one in the world with an autistic sibling who seems not to love him. I liked the personal story and I think the book was great. It was great to read with him and talk about situations he could relate to. And the ending was positive!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2010

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    Posted May 8, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2011

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