Monday, January 29, 2007

Books - Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

copyright 2007 by Ms. Huis Herself
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So yeah... this posting a book every day in January thing... um...

Well, I've got one for today!

You might very well have heard of this book already, especially if you work with kids or learning disabilities or mental illness. It's a GREAT read!

You see, the story is told from the viewpoint of the protagonist - a young boy with Asperger's Syndrome. It begins the night he finds the neighbor's dog dead on the lawn in front of the neighbor's house. Now don't start thinking this is a gory book - that's it for anything icky, really, and it's told very matter-of-factly. In fact, one of the things that characterizes Christopher is that he's got a very orderly and bright mind... even if the order is maybe a little different than most people's. Yellow and brown are bad, but red is good, for example. He loves math because it's logical, but doesn't understand people and their reactions, expressions, etc.

Anyway, Christopher decides to solve the mystery of who murdered Mrs. Shears' dog, and that quest, along with the complications that follow, is the story.

One thing I found absolutely enthralling about the book was the way Christopher explains the way he thinks. There are diagrams he's drawn, and math problems he explains, and lists he's written to try to explain to the reader just how he thinks about things. The author, Mark Haddon, really lets you see inside his mind. I've had kids in my class or on my teaching team who had Asperger's or a few tendencies towards it, and man, did it really make me go "Oh! So THAT might be a little bit of how it was for them!"

(Oh, you know the whole "On the game show, there are 3 curtains, you pick one, they show you one you didn't pick, and now you've got a chance to switch if you want to... should you?" dealie? Well, Christopher explains that with a chart that totally made sense to me and now I KNOW I'd switch because it really would increase my chances of winning. Really! If you don't believe me, go buy the book or get it from the library.)

So anyway, I found this a fascinating and quick read. I enjoyed the insights into the way the narrator's mind worked, and how it related to kids with whom I've worked, but even without that connection I'd have really enjoyed it.


Kashka said...

This has been on my list of things I've been meaning to read for a while now, and with your recommendation, I'll bump it up to the list of things I'll read during my next "reading for pleasure" window, ETA mid-March.

Syl said...

Agreed. I have always been curious, but with your recommendation I think I will read it. Sometime. Hopefully soon. It's definitely next.

Allknowingjen said...

I hadn't heard of it before- but I really want to read it now based on your rec. I've had a couple of students with Asperger's too and it sounds like it would be really interesting.

min said...

I loved it! If I remember correctly the pages are numbered from his point of view. You don't really "get it" when you start reading, but by the end, you understand. I laughed quite a bit while reading it!

Kashka said...

Update: I checked this out of the library today while I was waiting to take (or rather, BOOT) my Physics test and I'm already, um, math is hard, some prime number of pages in.

Ms. Huis Herself said...

Yay, Kashka, for striking while the iron is hot. Hope you enjoy it.