By Cynthia Lord
Scholastic Press, 2006. 200 pages.
Twelve-year-old Catherine has a younger brother named David, who is autistic. Because she is often embarrassed by him, she makes him lists of rules on how to act in public, such as "A boy takes off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts." While accompanying David to his occupational therapy classes, Catherine befriends a paralyzed boy named Jason. Jason is unable to speak, so he carries around a scrapbook of words that he can point to when trying to communicate. Catherine helps him by illustrating new, descriptive cards for him such as "Stinks a big one!" and "Whatever." She helps Jason to become expressive and more like any other teenager. Although Catherine is often angry and frustrated by her autistic brother, her friendship with Jason teaches her about tolerance and acceptance.
Cynthia Lord does a beautiful job of showing the humor and heartache of being a twelve year old girl, especially one living with a disabled brother. Although at times "Rules" breaks your heart, it ultimately leaves you with a sense of peace. This book has received many recognitions, including ALA Notable Children's Book, Schneider Family Book Award, and Newbery Honor Medal.