Little Big Sister on the Move
by Amy B. McCoy

"Just thinking of starting over again with new friends in a new town made my breathing get fast and my stomach feel funny."

Starting a new school in a new town is a stressful situation for any kid, but for fourth-grader Katie, it has the potential to be a nightmare. Katie's brother, Mikey, has autism. Though he is a year older than Katie, she feels as if she is the older of the two because he behaves much younger than other children his age. Though Katie loves her brother, she finds herself embarrassed by his behavior at times. Her friends at her old school understood her brother, his sometimes strange behavior, and his rambunctious personality. Now in a new town, she fears that no one will understand. However, Katie is pleasantly surprised to find that, for the most part, her new community is more than welcoming and understanding about Mikey. As she acclimates to her new surroundings, she finds new ways to teach others about autism and how to relate to Mikey and others like him. And though dealing with a sibling with autism is at times frustrating, Katie learns that when people begin to understand the disorder, they are more accepting of those they perceive as different.

This is a wonderful book about growing up with a sibling with autism. More than that, it is a valuable source for teaching young readers about autism. McCoy's narrative includes a wealth of information about the disorder within the storyline. The book offers a knowledgeable source for teachers who desire to educate students about disabilities. Although it is specifically geared toward autism, it could certainly be used as a springboard to discuss other disabilities as well. The author discusses several groups, such as Unified Sports, Unified Theater, and Best Buddies. All of these are designed to include children with and without disabilities so that both groups have a valuable and enriched experience together. Readers will learn much about these organizations and their missions through the plot of McCoy's novel.

As a former elementary school teacher and the mother of a child with autism, McCoy is uniquely suited to write about the subject. Her first book in the series, Little Big Sister, was the winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Award in 2017. Her two children, Kathryn and Matthew, are the inspiration for her characters, Katie and Mikey, and she pulls from real-life incidents for her fiction. A dedicated educator, "she works for a non-profit whose mission is to help families raising children with disabilities navigate the world of special education." The author also writes a blog, Dancing in the Rain, about parenting a child with special needs. McCoy visits local schools as a visiting author, where she discusses her books and continues to educate young readers about disability awareness, autism, and kindness.

Whether the reader is a teacher wishing to promote understanding of disabilities or a parent wanting to find resources, McCoy's work will prove to be a treasure. Perhaps it is her personal connection to the subject that makes the book so profoundly moving and her characters immediately endearing. Whatever it is, the author approaches her subject with insight that permeates each page. McCoy's engaging and thought-provoking book is one that will change the way you look at the world.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award Middle Reader Category Honorable Mention

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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