Happy Book Birthday
MG novel in verse
Illustrated by Sarah Mensinga
in Children’s Gymnastics Books
A high-energy novel in verse starring a fifth grader who is almost as devoted to competitive gymnastics as she is to hiding her poor reading skills. What happens when Claire’s secret starts unraveling?
“Fullerton (No More Plastic) authentically and compassionately portrays cued-white fifth grader Claire’s experience with dyslexia in this easily digestible verse novel. . . Fullerton’s flowing verse adeptly captures what dyslexia is like for Claire alongside her frustration around convincing her mother that she’s trying hard but needs assistance. This insightful story carries a strong message for teachers, caregivers, and children alike, and Mensinga’s emotive illustrations provide depth throughout.”
As featured in:
New and Noteworthy Children’s and YA Books: August 2022 (publishersweekly.com)
“Fifth grade gymnast Claire excels on the mat but struggles in the classroom. When she needs a learning disability diagnosis, she must find a way to advocate for herself.”
“The book, based on the author’s personal experience growing up with dyslexia, offers an authentic portrayal of children with learning disabilities. Readers will empathize with Claire as she struggles with feeling ‘stupid’ and will support her journey. The quick-moving plot comes with a satisfying ending, and the free-verse narrative provides plenty of helpful white space for reluctant readers.”
As featured in:
“Designed with accessibility in mind (the typeface is meant to be easily decoded), the text stresses that learning disabilities are in no way a bad thing. Fullerton offers readers a glimpse into what it’s like to try to read with difficulties. . . . A positive representation of perseverance.“
Interior illustrations by Sarah Mensinga
“… the short poems, liberal use of dialogue, and the focus on gymnastics make this a high interest, quick read that would make an excellent choice for both beginning chapter book readers and reluctant readers.”
Excerpt from Fullerton’s Book Birthday blog post:
“This story is very close to my heart because like my character Claire I am also dyslexic. A lot of the feelings Claire went through before her diagnosis were similar to what I felt growing up. I didn’t realize that I saw things differently than other children and thought I must be stupid.” —Alma Fullerton
Check out another review—with font comparisons—
at A Backwards Story.
FLIPPING FORWARD TWISTING BACKWARD is an immediate school staple and I hope to see it crop up again during the 2023 ALA Youth Media Awards!
Getting Children with Learning
Differences to Love Books,
a guest post by Alma Fullerton
AF: When I go into schools and speak to children, the first thing I ask is, “Who here likes to read?”
Everyone puts up their hands.
Then I ask, “Who here is lying about liking to read?”
There are usually a lot of laughs and a lot of hands up. Once the laughter dies down, I go on to tell them how at their age I didn’t like to read either. In fact, depending on the age group I’m talking to, I couldn’t read at their age.
Like Claire in Flipping Forward Twisting Backward, I couldn’t read until grade four.
Even now, as an adult who works an author and educator, reading can be difficult due to my dyslexia and ADD. Reading can cause headaches and nausea so I really need to be pulled into a story by a strong character and plot to make me want to finish it.
As an educator I believe a child with LDs should be allowed to listen to books instead of forcing them to try to read. Forcing them to read when reading makes them dizzy or gives them headaches will only turn them off books completely. I constantly find myself explaining to parents and teachers that listening to audio books is not cheating for a child with LDs. It would be the same as a child in a wheelchair using a ramp to get up the stairs.
If they must read with their eyes and not their ears, find books with an easy to read font like one of the Dyslexic fonts that are weighted down, or one of Sassoon Book fonts developed by Rosemary Sassoon and Adrian Williams for children. The later is the font used in Flipping Forward Twisting Backwards. Easy to read fonts make books so much more enjoyable for all children, not just those with LDs.
The fact is, everyone likes stories.
Whether reading them, listening to them, or watching them, the important thing is children must see themselves in stories. It’s a way to feel less alone in this big world we live in.
Photo credit: Chantale Viens
Alma Fullerton couldn’t read until she was in the fourth grade. Today she works with students who have learning disabilities. She is the author of several middle grade and young adult novels that garnered acclaim and awards in her native Canada. Alma is also the author/illustrator of several picture books, including the most recently published NO MORE PLASTIC (Pajama Press), which received many accolades, as below:
- 2022 Green Earth Book Award Honor Book
- 2022 Shining Willow finalist
- 2022 OLA Forest of Reading Blue Spruce Award Honor Book
- 2021 Globe and Mail selection
- 2021 CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens Fall Selection
- 2021 Open Book feature
★ “Among the best of the recent books about ocean plastic thanks to its positive approach and practical suggestions included at the end, this title would work well as a group read-aloud….A gentle, effective presentation of an environmental disaster.”—Kirkus