In this Newbery Honor book, twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life, which is nearly impossible because of a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules — from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public" — in order to stop his embarrassing behavior. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask, “What is normal?”
Have your students read the Kitchen Table Review for Rules. Next, have them write a set of 5-10 questions they can use to interview a classmate about his/her opinions on the book. After conducting interviews, have students type them up to publish in a class book of reviews.
In the book, Jason can only communicate by pointing to words in a book. At the end of the book, have students choose one word that sums up their thoughts about the book. It can be the theme, the way they feel about the book, etc. Pass out blank index cards upon which students can write their word and illustrate it the way Catherine did. Display the word cards. Discuss why the words were selected and look for any similarities and differences among them.
Throughout the book, Catherine and David talk to each other using Arnold Lobel’s words from Frog and Toad are Friends. Provide a copy of the book and encourage interested students to keep Catherine and David in mind as they read it. Have students discuss these questions after reading: What does the book teach about friendship? Why do you think it is David’s favorite book?