Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Five Middle Grade Novels with Protagonists with Asperger's or Another Form of Autism

In addition to being National Poetry Month in the U.S., April is Autism Awareness Month. It took us a while but here are five titles we found with protagonists who have autism. Not all texts explicitly state whether a character has Asperger's or is somewhere else on the autism spectrum, so please forgive us if we have miscategorized any titles (but do let us know!). The blurbs on each book come from Goodreads.

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas (Asperger's)
written by Jacqueline Houtman
The Reinvention of Edison Thomas The Reinvention of Edison Thomas
"Eddy Thomas can read a college physics book, but he can't read the emotions on the faces of his classmates at Drayton Middle School. He can spend hours tinkering with an invention, but he can't stand more than a few minutes in a noisy crowd, like the crowd at the science fair, which Eddy fails to win. When the local school crossing guard is laid off, Eddy is haunted by thoughts of the potentially disastrous consequences and invents a traffic-calming device, using parts he has scavenged from discarded machines. Eddy also discovers new friends, who appreciate his abilities and respect his unique view of the world. They help Eddy realize that his "friend" Mitch is the person behind the progressively more distressing things that happed to Eddy. By trusting his real friends and accepting their help, Eddy uses his talents to help others and rethinks his purely mechanical definition of success in this Tofte/Wright Children's Literature Award Winner."

Mockingbird (Asperger's)
written by Kathryn Erskine
"In Caitlin’s world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That’s the stuff Caitlin’s older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon’s dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger’s, she doesn’t know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white—the world is full of colors—messy and beautiful."

Anything But Typical
written by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Anything But Typical Anything But Typical
"Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird—her name is Rebecca—could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he’s terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca wil only see his autism and not who Jason really is."

There Are No Words
written by Mary Calhoun Brown
There Are No Words
"Jaxon MacKenzie, a mute, yet secretly literate, 12-year-old girl, discovers a faded newspaper article documenting the greatest train wreck in American history-an event that claimed the life of her grandfather's best friend, Oliver Pack. That night Jaxon is whisked through an old painting in her grandparents' parlor, back to July 1918 in an attempt to prevent the accident. Miraculously, she finds herself able to speak for the first time. Jaxon meets three friends: Sara Hale, Dewey MacKenzie, and Oliver. Soon Jaxon realizes her mission in this world of horse-drawn carts and prejudice is to save Oliver from dying aboard one of the ill-fated passenger cars, filled with young black men on their way to Nashville to work making gun powder for the war effort. With the government's takeover of the railways during World War I, and a calamity of human error, the train cannot be stopped from its fate, and the responsibility of saving Oliver Pack is planted firmly on the shoulders of this remarkable young lady."

The London Eye Mystery (Asperger's)
written by Siobhan Dowd
The London Eye MysteryThe London Eye Mystery 
"When Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye, he turned and waved before getting on. But after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off - but no Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? So Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery."

Do you have any favorite middle grade books with protagonists that have autism? We'd love to hear about them in the comments!


  1. Anne Ursu's THE REAL BOY. It comes out September 24.

    1. Thanks, Kurtis! Anne Ursu is a talented writer--I'll be looking forward to reading The Real Boy this fall.

  2. How about Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis?

    1. We'll check that one out, Shelley, thank you!