October 03, 2017

Slug Days

Written by Sara Leach
Illustrated by Rebecca Bender
Pajama Press
120 pp.
Ages 7-10
October 2017

Slug Days is told in the first-person narrative of a young girl on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. Lauren, who is probably seven or eight years of age, gives her commentary on several days at school and home, recounting both her slug days when she feels slow and slimy and people get angry with her and her occasional but glorious butterfly days, when she earns stickers in her school agenda and goes for ice cream with her mom.  Sadly, there is much that breaks Lauren’s routines and confuses her sensibilities resulting in those icky slug days: her bus driver is away, someone is sitting in her bus seat, her shoelace bows don’t match, she misses reading time, or her classmates don’t want to play with her.
From Slug Days 
by Sara Leach 
illus. by Rebecca Bender
Even though her teachers know the behaviours typical of ASD and how best to help her, Lauren doesn’t always interpret their actions as helpful, challenging them and even being convinced that they make her have slug days.  When a new girl from Sweden joins the class, Lauren comes to understand that she has the capacity to make butterfly days for herself and someone else.
From Slug Days 
by Sara Leach 
illus. by Rebecca Bender
Sara Leach makes Lauren’s voice young and blatant, focusing on what is important to the child and often ignoring what others deem priorities.  Who the girl is, is undisguised.  She needs her routines and obsesses about things that others might ignore.  She finds security in sticky messes and speaks her mind in an effort to be honest not disrespectful or challenging.  It's usually how others respond to her that gives her the most grief.  Often times she is misunderstood or challenged or ridiculed for her differences and, though she can overlook much, as a strategy to coping, she is as affected by others as most of us are, sadly leading to those slug days.

The voice is the most compelling element of Sara Leach's Slug Days, as it should be.  Here is Lauren's story, up close and personal.  Whether readers can empathize is not on Sara Leach but on the readers themselves because the author makes it clear and it is an arresting text spoken true by a child on the spectrum. Regardless, it’s evident that Lauren's life is full and complex and often wholly unpredictable.  But, with an arsenal of strategies, she will hopefully have fewer slug days and expand her days, as well as those around her, to those of butterflies.

(A version of this review was originally written for and published in Quill & Quire, as noted in the citation below.)

Kubiw, H. (2017, October). [Review of the book Slug Days by Sara Leach]. Quill & Quire, 83 (8): 26.

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