Friday, March 15, 2013

book review: remember dippy

Vernick, Shirley Reva. Remember Dippy. Cinco Puntos. May 2013. Grades 5-8. 156p. ISBN 978-1-935955-48-1

Fourteen year old Johnny worries his entire summer will be wrecked when his mom takes a seasonal job out of state, leaving him taking care of his autistic cousin Remember, Mem for short, while his eccentric Aunt Collette is at work. His summer, however, is far from ruined. Though Johnny has to deal with bully Dirk the Jerk and struggle with his longtime crush on his best friend’s sister, the opportunity to develop a real friendship with his sixteen year old cousin Mem provides a depth and resonance to his summer. This good-hearted coming-of-age novel may hold appeal for fifth through eighth grade readers; its portrayal of the narrator’s adolescent difficulties never veers into particularly gritty or uncomfortable territory. For Johnny, his coming-of-age adventures add up to "a regular kid summer. That was something Mem would never ever get—because he wasn’t a regular kid." Remember Dippy provides a nuanced portrayal of Mem, both as an autistic protagonist with, for example, personal space issues and distinctive speech patterns, and as teenager making new friends and exploring his world.

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