Written by Jillian Ma
Illustrated by Mimi Chao
Published by Future Horizons, 2017
In my world is children's picture book that carries a very touching message for adult readers. Each page contains only a single sentence and a beautiful illustration and it's easy reading for the early readers. The words are simple and they rhyme, which makes this a perfect storybook.
The general format of the book is that there's a little boy who keeps saying "In my world, I can ...." and following this up with claims which at first seem a little outrageous, particularly if you take the fantasy elements (dinosaurs and dragons) of the illustrations into account.
The text however is well grounded so that even when the picture shows the boy with his friend riding a dinosaur, the text simply says that he can "adventure with his friend". It's all very achievable and clever stuff.
...or is it?
Most of us take these things for granted, playing with friends, being seen and heard, riding in a plane, using the swings at the park, sharing food, toys and interests, being calm and being appreciative of love.
This is an amazing book and it's a must-have for anyone who has young children who interact with people with autism. It's hard to review picture books without giving the plot away, so I'm afraid I'm going to have to spoil the only "spoilable" moment - rest assured, you can skip the rest of this review and simply go out and buy the book. It's well worth it.
I started reading this book from the front to the back. I don't peek. I like to let things unfold as the author intended. My heart sank when I hit the page that simply said;
In your world... I have Autism.
Even the page itself is dull, dreary and drained of colour. Our brightly coloured boy is reduced to a one-dimensional caricature of himself, outlines only. The page hit me very hard, certainly harder than I thought a picture book could.
There's no problem. This book isn't going to upset a child but it is going to pass a very different message onto an adult. The boy ends by reminding us that it's with our help that he's able to do the things he does in his world but to me, it's the words of Mimi Chao's dedication and the front that I hear;
"Dedicated to those who long to be understood"
- Mimi Chao.
To me, it reads like the boy feels like he's doing these things in his world already and that people outside of his world are only seeing "autism". Of course, I'm probably biased about these things and you always take away from a book a little of what to bring to it in the first place.
This is an absolutely brilliant book with the some of the most gorgeous illustrations I've seen in a children's book in a long time. If you've got a library of picture books or if you've got a youngster on the spectrum, then this is the book you need to have.
In My World by Jillian Ma with illustrations by Mimi Chao is Published by Future Horizons. It's available in paperback at Amazon and Goodreads. Mimi Chao's blog post on the backstory of the book is also well worth reading.
Honesty clause: I was provided with a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes.