Looking after louis by lesley ely
Looking After Louis by Lesley ElyLooking after Louis is an ambitious children’s book, and author Lesley Ely’s intentions are undoubtedly positive as she depicts a young boy with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) making progress in an inclusive classroom setting. However, I found this book to be slightly problematic in its execution.
Louis is the new boy at the unnamed female narrator’s school. She describes with curiosity how Louis is ‘not quite like the rest of us’, commenting on his frequent repetition of other people’s words and his lack of social interaction with other students in the playground. As the story progresses, the narrator and her peers begin to form a connection with Louis through a game of football and the book ends with a positive image of him playing outside with a fellow member of his class.
As someone who has experience working with students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) and specifically ASD, I found it refreshing to discover a text aimed at introducing to children the issue of ASD and acceptance of those with the condition. Having said this, there were parts of the story that I felt could provide barriers to the kind of acceptance of SEN that Ely was clearly trying to advocate. There is a recurring use of the word ‘us’ to describe the children in the class, a collective noun which Louis is then excluded from, as seen in the previous ‘not quite like the rest of us’ description. Putting Louis in this oppositional linguistic position throughout the book may only add to the sense that his differences keep him separate from the collective identity of his class. Even by the end of the book, Louis has not been accepted as one of ‘us’; as he plays outside during lesson time the narrator concludes that ‘we’re allowed to break rules for special people.’ This line supports a positive message that treating people equally doesnt always mean treating them the same but it also serves to reiterate the notion of Louis as ‘other’ rather than someone who participates in the norms and values of the class.
The main aspect of Looking after Louis that I find problematic, is the fact that it is never specified that Louis has ASD, only that he is ‘different.’ Adult readers may ascertain fairly quickly that this is the case, especially as the last page provides an adult-level explanation of ASD in the context of mainstream inclusion. However, young readers will be unaware of what truly makes Louis ‘different.’ This lack of clarity could be seen to imply that open and honest discussion of disability and SEN is not something that children are capable of or should be engaging in, which I would strongly disagree with.
Overall, I think that there would be some value in reading Looking after Louis with primary age children, as it could be used as a discussion tool for disability and inclusion. Any teacher or parent wanting to read this book with children should be aware of the misrepresentations that this book could be seen to advocate.
Looking After Louis by Lesley Ely
This review focuses on the messages embedded within both images and text in children's picture books. It includes a thorough analysis of Looking after Louis by Lesley Ely, detailing how its illustrations and text sometimes contradict each other, creating a complicated representation of integrated education. By comparing this picture book with another closely related text, this review examines the possible effects Looking after Louis might have on young readers. We examined disability narratives, accessible visual rhetorics, the "qualifications" for being a speaker and a writer, and how eugenic discourses are at work in modern-day rhetorical settings, among other topics. For the final project, students explored issues of disability and rhetoric that were of interest to them, and Hila's long-term goal of studying and perhaps writing children's literature led her to write this review of a children's book. My assignment asked students to perform critical analysis and incorporate relevant research, which in Hila's case meant surveying existing books focused on children with disabilities, as well as researching the related issues of autism, power, and representation, beyond what we had read and discussed in class. In the proposal stage, Hila demonstrated her ability to objectively evaluate, but as the project developed into a full draft and we met to talk about it, her critique became more pointed and engaging.
Thank you! Written by a clinical psychologist, this fictional view of an autistic child finding his place in a mainstream classroom bears a clear but not ponderous agenda. Louis tends to stare at the wall, parrot the last phrase he hears, draw inscrutable pictures, and sail right through playground soccer games—to all of which his classmates react with a mix of giggles, mild annoyance, and curiosity that, after calm conversations with their teacher, warm to acceptance. Dunbar illustrates this lesson in tolerance with sketchy scenes rendered in a childlike, cartoon style; in his bright red pullover, Louis is an easily spotted figure among the other, actively posed children, and like the montages of his jumbled but not entirely abstract paintings that open and close the episode, comes across as different but not, ultimately, beyond comprehension. There was a problem adding your email address. Please try again. Be the first to discover new talent!
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