Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Ostrich and Other Lost Things

35259626Hautala, Beth. The Ostrich and Other Lost Things
February 20th 2018 by Philomel Books
Copy provided by the publisher

Oliva's "super power" is finding lost items, from her neighbor's frequently misplaced glasses to her father's keys. When her brother's plastic toy ostrich goes missing, she tries to find it, to no avail. It's important to her, because the ostrich seems to calm Jacob down, but ever since it has been gone, he has been prone to melt downs, and the outward manifestations of his autism spectrum disorder seem to have increased. It is summer vacation, which throws Jacob for a loop, but Olivia is looking forward to being in a theater production as well as visiting the small zoo that has been set up in her neighborhood with animals that need a home while the Tulsa zoo is being renovated. Because there is an ostrich in the exhibits, and she tried to sneak in to visit it, Olivia has to do community service there for six weeks. Jacob is also in the play, and Olivia worries that he will ruin things. She steps up her investigation, keeps up with her lines as well as her work at the zoo, and deals with the almost nightly escape of the ostrich, who ends up in her backyard.
Strengths: This was a realistic portrayal of a family struggling to maintain a routine and sense of normality despite the challenges that autism can present. Jacob is certainly typical of the students I have seen in my school, and Olivia's attitude is normal as well. I liked that the parents were supportive of both children and tried very hard to allow Olivia to live her own life while acknowledging that she sometimes made sacrifices because of her brother. The zoo component was interesting as well.
Weaknesses: The zoo being renovated and sending animals out to various communities was hard for me to believe. The Columbus Zoo has added or renovated lots of exhibits without rehoming animals. It certainly COULD happen, but it just seemed sort of odd to me.
What I really think: It's a good story, and I'm glad to have it, especially since we have an autism unit in our building. The title and the cover aren't fantastic, though.
Ms. Yingling

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