Sara Leach (Juvenile Fiction)
Lauren has two kinds of days: slug days and butterfly days. Slug days are the worst and spent trying not to flip out, figuring out how other people are feeling, and so many other things that make Lauren feel slow and slimy. But butterfly days are the best! The days that she’s able to control her temper, friends want to play with her, and she gets ice cream with her mom. It’s not easy having Autism Spectrum Disorder. With so many rules, surprises, and changes, a butterfly day can quickly turn into a slug day with just a shove or a snicker. BUT a slug day can also turn into a butterfly day if you make your baby sister laugh or happen to meet the perfect friend.
Leach has over twenty years’ experience in education and has taught and worked closely with ASD students. Her knowledge of coping mechanisms and behavioral characteristics is evident in this thoughtful and touching story about a girl struggling to fit in and be understood. It’s a quick read filled with beautiful illustrations by Rebecca Bender that give life to Lauren and her world filled with uncertainty and unpredictability. Leach’s story also demonstrates the importance of a strong support system—one that ensures Lauren has the resources she needs at school and home to thrive. From calming erasers and rubber balls to a home safety plan, Slug Days shows us that it truly does take a village to ensure that these wonderfully unique individuals are included and succeed.
This book is targeted for readers ages 7 to 9, but slightly younger readers can also enjoy and benefit from this story. Slug Days is told from Lauren’s point of view and gives readers a peek into one of her weeks at home and school. This is not a how-to kind of book, but more of a hey-I-can-see-me-through-her story that allows neurodiverse individuals to connect with Lauren and relate to her everyday obstacles and triumphs. The book is also a great tool for introducing some important discussion points about how certain behaviors can be misinterpreted and what can be done differently. For example, Leach has Lauren engaging in a few instances of inappropriate physical contact such as touching, kissing, hugging, and playing with a classmate’s hair. These instances are innocent but are important to identify and remedy, especially in today’s social climate.
Author Drishti Bablani wrote, “There is a beauty in difference that only understanding reveals.” Recent CDC reports show that around 1 in 36 children in the U.S. has been identified with autism so books like Slug Days will continue to play an important part in increasing awareness and promoting understanding and inclusion. Now wouldn’t THAT be beautiful.
* Book cover image attributed to: www.abebooks.com
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