cover image Ways to Play

Ways to Play

Lyn Miller-Lachmann, illus. by Gabriel Alborozo. Levine Querido, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-64614-259-0

Cousins find common ground through play in a simple story with an instructional thrust from an autistic creative team. When “Bossy Older Cousin Emma” visits, she doesn’t understand the way that neurodivergent-cued narrator Riley plays. While Emma and sister Violet bounce “from toy to toy,” Riley “can play at one thing all day long”; while the cousins color inside the lines, Riley creates “squiggly spirals of wax” with sharpened crayons. Following Emma’s criticisms, “the room feels too hot,” but with the help of an exuberant family dog, Riley shows Emma that “there are lots of ways to play with toys.” Declarative first-person text from Miller-Lachmann (She Persisted: Temple Grandin) emphasizes creative, cousin-connecting Riley’s experience (“Points and spirals make beautiful pictures”), explaining how and why Riley enjoys certain activities (“If I line up my dolls and stuffies by size I know which ones fit on the chairs”). Fine-lined ink and wash artwork from Alborozo (This Old Dog) adds warmth through pale-skinned, pink-cheeked figures with wide smiles, and standout spreads of Riley’s crayon swirls and the group frolicking together capture varied types of play. An author’s note shares Miller-Lachmann’s experience as an undiagnosed autistic child. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Jacqui Lipton, Raven Quill Literary. (Aug.)