Review: Just Elliot by Sue Baer
Autism is a developmental disability affecting the lives of numerous children. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 1 in 68 children born in the United States have been diagnosed with autism. As a result, the need for mainstream awareness about Autism is needed to help improve outcomes for those whose lives are impacted by the condition. Just Elliot is a book written to foster that awareness.
Told from the perspective of the main character, Elliot, the book provides an insider view of Elliot's daily life. Outwardly, he is a normal kid but internally he processes things differently, which in turns affects some of his behaviors. An example of this is evident at the onset of the story. Here, Baer uses different colored raindrops to describe Elliot's sensitivity to noise. He states, "For me, it's like having words and sounds raining on my head and it's hard to get through the noise."
A consistent theme throughout the book is the idea that children who have autism may experience every day activities differently from others because of their heightened sensitivity to environmental stimuli. The author conveys the message of how to address autistic behaviors verses the unfortunate downside of having interactions with people who are not socially sensitive. Baer brings about these messages in a subtle way, as if to entice the reader into forming an emotional connection with Elliot. Unique to this book is the author's keen ability to contrast Elliot's internal struggles to his outward appearance. The illustrations meticulously separate Elliot the person from the autistic condition.
Although I am not a fan of the book's all white design, which gives it a somewhat dated look, I am completely mesmerized by the details use to capture the essence of Elliot's struggles. Simple designs but rich narratives give this book an A+ rating in my book.