HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: A Manual for Marco
Author: Shaila Abdullah
Illustrators: Iman Tejpar, Sophia Picari, Aanyah Abdullah, and Shaila Abdullah
Publisher: Loving Healing Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-247-8 (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1-61599-249-2 (Ebook)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Abdullah, Shaila. (published in by Loving Healing Press, 5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105). Do you know what it means to be autistic? An eight year old girl walks into her house and hears screaming. Her mother is trying to get her brother Marco out of his favorite red jacket. You see, Marco has a condition called autism which makes it very hard for him to do things the normal way. Unfortunately, Marco didn’t come with a manual. The girl begins to list the things that she likes about Marco. He’s a math genius, he has a fantastic memory, and he’s strong. But she also lists the things that she doesn’t like about his autism. He takes other people’s things and hides them. He can’t eat anything with wheat or dairy in it, so she doesn’t get these foods either. And he doesn’t like change. What will she decide? How does she really feel about her brother?
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction, difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted, repetitive behavior, affecting information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize. What causes it and how it occurs are not well understood, and there is no known cure. I do not have any personal experience with autism, but I have known homeschooling parents who were teaching their autistic children and have heard special needs experts discuss the topic at homeschool conferences. A Manual for Marco is a welcome addition to children’s literature that will help in introducing the condition of autism to young people and in providing information that will enable them to understand a little more about it so that it will not seem so scary.
Some friends of Marco’s sister find him odd or are afraid of him, so she doesn’t invite them to her house any more because her friends need to be comfortable around her brother. She says, “He is who he is, and nothing and nobody can change that. He is made special. It’s really no one’s fault.” At the end, she presents “Six things to know before you invite my brother Marco and me to a play date.” Author Shaila Abdullah is an award-winning Pakistani-American writer and designer who has also written another children’s book, My Friend Suhana, about a child whose friend has cerebral palsy. As Marco’s sister lists all the things which she likes and dislikes as related to her brother’s autism, she realizes that maybe she has, after all, created A Manual for Marco. Publishers Weekly seems to be implying that the book will be coming out in February.