11-year-old Aurora Petrequin’s life changes when she befriends Frenchie Livernois, a new neighbor her age who doesn’t speak. Frenchie is on the autism spectrum, but immediately feels comfortable with Aurora who can’t seem to stop talking or control or impulse to interrupt others. Both kids enjoy nature and Frenchie is especially fond of birds. But when they move into a new grade, they’re placed in different classes and Frenchie is assigned an aide. Aurora starts to feel guilty as she makes new friends and can’t devote all her attention to her friendship with Frenchie. The guilt intensifies when Frenchie goes missing one day.
The Unforgettable Logan Foster #1 is a fantasy middle grade debut by author Shawn Peters. Logan is a foster kid at a boys’ foster home. He’s on the autism spectrum, has a photographic memory, and isn’t the best at picking up on social cues. But just when Logan is sure that he’ll never be adopted, a new couple Margie and Gil show up. After a rocky start, Logan is settling in with his new foster parents when he starts noticing some weird things. Gil never seems to eat and are Margie’s tears silver? He’s only processing the fact that his new parents might be superheroes when they get kidnapped by a supervillain and it’s up to Logan to save them.
14-year-old David is a quintessential middle child. His sister Bridgette is in college and the family’s academic success story. Mal, his younger brother is on the autism spectrum, although his family prefers not to use the autism label. Mal is almost non-verbal and only says the word “okay.” David has always has a large appetite and an interest in competitive eating, but after he accidentally leaves a $2000 bill on his mother’s credit card, he’s forced to join a pizza eating contest to win the grand prize of $5000.
In between finding his place in the family and trying not to ruin his internal organs by overeating, David also has to navigate the fact that his two oldest friends Cyn and HeyMan might be dating each other. Where does that leave him? As the third musketeer still, or an unwanted third wheel?
I’ve recently been reminded how important OwnVoices stories are, especially where disability and neurodiversity are involved. I already have an older list of books with autistic characters (for kids and adults) on this blog, but I wanted to broaden the scope a bit to include other kinds of neurodiversity, including sensory processing disorder (SPD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), dyslexia, ADHD, learning difficulties, synesthesia, and autism spectrum disorder in general (ASD).
You’ll find books by OwnVoices and non OwnVoices authors, as well as books in which the neurodivergent person is the main character, and others with “neurodiversity rep.”
Lupe Wong Won’t Dance is Donna Barba Higuera’s debut middle-grade novel. Her protagonist Lupe is a Mexican-Chinese girl who loves baseball. Her Chinese father died several years ago, so she lives with her Mexican mom and her brother Paolo. However, both her abuela and her Chinese grandparents are very present in their lives. Lupe is excited to get all A’s this year because her uncle has promised her a meeting with baseball star Fu Li Hernandez, who’s Chinacan/Mexinese like her if she does. But all of a sudden, there’s a new development in her gym class: Coach wants them to do square dancing instead of like, actual sports. And guess what? Lupe does not dance.