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
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.)
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)
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.