This is quite a departure from my previous review, but I adored Ready! as much as anything I’ve read recently. I suppose I need a disclaimer: I do not have children, I don’t know much about Asperger’s. That aside, I think this is a book I’d give to my child with or without Asperger’s if I had one. It’s certainly one I’ll recommend to my friends in martial arts who have children (or who just want to read it for themselves). I do know a little about martial arts, having earned my second Dan years ago. The lessons one learns in martial arts are the same for children and adults—too many to enumerate here, but very hard to describe.
Back to Lydia Ondrusek—I am biased towards a woman I’ve never met in person, coming to respect her via social networking as a kind and generous person. I was so hoping this short from Echelon for youngsters (middle grade/teen, depending upon the child I would think) would be great. It is. I intend to purchase the rest of the series.
Mark, as you’ve gathered, has Asperger’s, and is struggling in his reading comprehension. He has a big project coming up, and he’s terrified. He’ll have to do a report and get up in front of class and talk about a book he’s read! Hard enough for any of us! His mom and teacher get together to redirect him to a more appropriate book for him. And while that has helped, it’s his start in Taekwondo classes that really sets him on a path to confidence. The folks (adults and kids) at “karate” class welcome the newcomer, and Mr. Lee even tells him he’s doing well!
I don’t want to tell the whole story, but I’ll say that Ready! charmed me. And I’m dying to give away why Mark is “King of the Marshmallows,” but it’s such a lovely moment in Ms. Ondrusek’s writing that I can’t ruin it. As I said, the spirit of the martial arts is captured beautifully here, and this simple little book made me grateful for the time I spent in the dojo. I gained some insight into Asperger’s (and how it has a different effect on different children). I do remember many children, who, like Mark, struggled in their young lives. But don’t we all? As his mom says “It takes a lot of experience to really understand other people, whether you have Asperger’s or not.” Especially understanding oneself.