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Book Review: Knowing Joseph by Judith Mammay

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Knowing Joseph is an engrossing, touching book about a young boy trying to deal with his 6-year old autistic brother. For 10-year old Brian, living with his brother Joseph isn’t easy. Joseph doesn’t play with other children, screams when something bothers him, and constantly needs special attention.

To make matters worse, Mom and Dad are so preoccupied with Joseph’s ups and downs they hardly have the time to pay attention to Brian, which isn’t fair. Still, Brian does his best, always trying to make Joseph comfortable and protect him from the school bullies – but does he really know Joseph?

One day at the beach during a family camping trip, Brian meets an older boy who enlightens him about autism. He not only opens a whole new window of knowledge for Brian, but for other children as well. As a result, Brian and Joseph become closer than ever.

Later, back at school, the children are given an assignment. They must work in groups and make a presentation on their chosen subject: children with disabilities. To Brian’s chagrin, the teacher announces that the class bully must be part of their group. As the children make their presentations, it becomes obvious the class bully has some special needs as well – not like those of Joseph, the boy he had been bullying all along.

Knowing Joseph is a must read for children ages nine and up. In an engaging style, Mammay teaches the reader what autism is all about and how to treat children who have this disability. She does this by presenting the characters and the story, not by preaching, which is why middle readers will enjoy this novel.

The plot is interesting and compelling. The dialogues, characters, and plot appeal to young readers. Ultimately, it is a book that not only informs, but also one that teaches the true meaning of kindness and compassion.

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.