Cindy: Have we run the course of characters with Asperger’s Syndrome? The new trend just might be characters who are blind. Last fall, my first blind student, Maria, arrived at one of my middle schools and she read more books last year using our audiobook collection than most of my sighted students got through. This year, I have another blind student at my other middle school so perhaps I am just more aware of the blind characters who are popping up in fiction—but I don’t think so.
Last spring, I read Marcus Sedgwick’s intriguing mystery, She is Not Invisible (2014), in which a blind teen travels from London to New York City to find her missing father. She can’t see, but basically kidnaps her younger brother to be her eyes on this quest and then uses her other senses to good effect to help solve the mystery. Sedgwick follows his Printz Honor Midwinterblood (2013) with this page-turner that will also thoughtfully open young readers’ eyes to the circumstances of being blind. How can you know the value of paper money when a five is the same shape and size as a twenty-dollar bill?
This summer I read the final installment of the Joey Pigza series, The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza (2014). Is it really the last, Jack? Joey always makes me laugh but there’s always a dark undercurrent in these stories. Joey grows up a little more in each book and Gantos always leaves us with hope that if not all will be well with Joey, it will be as good as he and his dysfunctional family can make it. This time, Joey is left to care for baby Carter when his mother checks herself into the hospital with postpartum depression. Joey gets some assistance from a female friend, who is blind. Like Laureth in Sedgwick’s book, her blindness does not hold her back and she is a big help to the overwhelmed Joey and his needy baby brother.
Finally, there is the copy of Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (2014) that arrived recently. This debut YA novel features a high-school girl who loses her sight in an accident and must learn to adjust to her new circumstances. I haven’t read it yet, but the favorable Booklist review linked above makes me think I should. One of my book-club teens took it at our last meeting and promises to report back.
Are there other recent titles we’ve missed? Leave a note in the comments and we’ll look into them. Oh, and I found this short list of Courtesy Rules of Blindness that might be helpful if you work with students who are new to having blind students in their classes.