Friday Review – Spaghetti Is NOT A Finger Food (and other life lessons)

Click on the picture to link to Little Pickle Press

Spaghetti Is NOT  A Finger Food is a chapter book for early readers ages 8 to 12. While I don’t normally review books aimed at this young an age level, I was intrigued by Jodi’s character. Not only that, I think this is a book that all ages can enjoy and appreciate because, I’m sure we’ve all met people like Connor.

Working with Special children within my local school division, I have come across many Connor-like kids and, sadly, have also met teachers who just don’t get kids like Connor. I love that the author, Jodi Carmichael, is donating the proceeds of her book’s posters to Asperger Manitoba and that her publisher, Little Pickle Press, produces many books that deal with similar subject matter. 

Spaghetti gives us a humourous, yet sensitive, peek into the life of a child who is dealing with some impulse control issues. Connor is a sweet little boy who makes some unfortunate choices that land him  in trouble. His teacher and principal don’t seem to be able to connect with him and always seem to be disappointed in him. Connor does have an advocate in Mrs. Rosetti, his resource councilor, who helps him understand his impulses and how to make better choices. 

The story is written from Connor’s perspective, giving the reader some delightful insight into how his brain works. I especially liked the way he innocently suggested his teacher try a particular product – an anti-wrinkle cream – that he’d seen advertised on TV because of the way her face was all scrunched up and wrinkled with stress over Connor’s antics. In this way, Jodi shows that he is not being malicious in his actions, he just hasn’t learned how to react in certain social situations, much like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory.

While most children with Asberger Syndrome, or any of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, are extremely intelligent, their ability to pick up on social cues is a little different from ‘the norm’ and they must learn the protocols in order to function well in our society. They need rules of conduct, very SPECIFIC rules to follow, so their actions are not considered ‘bad’ by others.  In Connor’s case, he has a vast knowledge about dogs, but can’t understand why his friend won’t let him use a stool she’s sitting on so he can reach a dog book in the library. He needs the stool because, as everyone knows, they are what one uses to stand on, unlike a chair which is used for sitting. The end result is a bit of a scuffle between the two children and, ultimately, an accident. Connor is very sorry for the consequences, but he needs Mrs. Rosetti, through the use of specifically worded questions, to figure out how to deal with a similar incident in the future. 

I think Spaghetti would be a great resource for any school because I haven’t been in any that don’t have their own versions of Connor, who are regularly misunderstood and end up in trouble if they do not have advocates such as Mrs. Rosetti standing in their corner. Teachers and classmates need to learn what makes these children tick and how to act towards them, making the educational experience better for everyone. Spaghetti, because of Jodi’s whimsical informative writing style, has won both the 2013 Gold Mom’s Choice Award and 2013 Silver Benjamin Franklin Award.

I highly recommend picking up a copy (it’s available in all formats) and getting to know Connor because you never know when you’ll meet someone just like him. Oh! And drop by on Sunday to learn more about the author, Jodi Carmichael. 🙂