Tag Archives: Biography

On World Autism Awareness Day: Temple Grandin by Sy Montgomery

Temple Grandin has always been different. From her infancy her parents knew she was a child unlike any other, her father believed her to be mentally deficient but her mother knew that somewhere under Temple’s erratic and odd behaviors, was a child filled with curiosity, talent and love.  Temple developed behind other children and did not speak until the age of five but once she did she showed a personality and wit that stood out among the crowd of typical children. Still she often found comfort in twirling for hours on end and her senses were often extremely sensitive to touch, sound and light. However Temple’s mother knew Temple was different but not less. The name eventually given to Temple’s condition was autism.

Autism caused Temple to struggle through elementary and middle school and she was at times subject to bullying but as she got older she learned to make her way in the world. While navigating through society Temple found that not only did she have amazing talents but she also could do things no one else was capable of. She found that at times autism was a gift that allowed her to think in ways others could not. You see Temple thought in pictures instead of words and this allowed her to visualize things in a very special way.

For instance Temple had the ability to think the way an animal could since she was so attuned to their senses and behavior. She especially loved and felt a kinship with cows. This ability led to her career in animal husbandry and her deep love of cattle turned into a talent unlike any other. Today Temple Grandin is one of the most prominent figures in the meat packing industry where she designs humane treatment systems for all types of livestock. At this time in history Temple has done more for creating humane conditions for “food animals” than any other living human being.

Today through her role as an ambassador for the humane treatment of livestock and her role as an advocate for those with autism, Temple provides a dual voice to those who might not otherwise have one. She is also renown for her ability to explain how autism feels and the differences in her brain and those of most other people.

Within this new biography children are given a very personal account of Temple and her life. Pictures, drawings and other media only bring readers further into Temple’s world.

Additionally the book chooses to address both children with and without autism making it inclusive and educational at the same time. While showing the challenges that Temple faced readers can actually see the aspects of autism that can have a negative affect on an individual on the autism spectrum. However at the same time the reader is also shown those special abilities that can make an autistic individual exceptional.

Sy Montgomery also does a spectacular job of writing for the middle grade age group. At one point even making a Harry Potter reference by which to explain an individual like Temple living with autism. While Harry’s abilities might have been a bit scary among muggles but once he was accepted into Hogwart’s and given a chance to be a part of things; he blossomed. As would children with autism if they were accepted and treated as equals by other children.

In the end the message is one of acceptance and inclusion for all using autism awareness and education as the vehicle by which to make it happen. Bravo!

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World will be released on April 3, 2012. You can also visit Temple at her website.

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Filed under Autism, Children's Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Parenthood Picks

Review: Joe DiMaggio-The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn

“As the New York Yankees’ star centerfielder from 1936 to 1951, Joe DiMaggio is enshrined in America’s memory as the epitome in sports of grace, dignity, and that ineffable quality called “class.” But his career after retirement, starting with his nine-month marriage to Marilyn Monroe, was far less auspicious. Writers like Gay Talese and Richard Ben Cramer have painted the private DiMaggio as cruel or self-centered. Now, Jerome Charyn restores the image of this American icon, looking at DiMaggio’s life in a more sympathetic light.

DiMaggio was a man of extremes, superbly talented on the field but privately insecure, passive, and dysfunctional. He never understood that for Monroe, on her own complex and tragic journey, marriage was a career move; he remained passionately committed to her throughout his life. He allowed himself to be turned into a sports memorabilia money machine. In the end, unable to define any role for himself other than “Greatest Living Ballplayer,” he became trapped in “a horrible kind of minutia.” But where others have seen little that was human behind that minutia, Charyn in Joe DiMaggio presents the tragedy of one of American sports’ greatest figures.”

 

It’s always interesting when I review a book that is a bit out of my comfort zone or which appeals to me in a different way than it might its “intended” audience. Let me preface by saying this…I really enjoy baseball. I love watching and following college baseball but I really don’t know much about the true baseball greats other than the fact that they are considered “great”. Enter Joe DiMaggio. I know he is considered one of the greatest baseball legends of all time. I also know that he was a husband of Marilyn Monroe. Of course I gravitate towards this fact…I am a twenty something year old girl who loves old Hollywood glamour and an ardent Marilyn admirer. That being said this book held a bit of a different appeal for me and yet still managed to both educate and entertain.

Joe DiMaggio was a very private man. A man who kept to himself. However there was one individual in his life for which he would do anything: Marilyn Monroe. Throughout the fights, the battling of egos as two of the most beloved figures of all time- this is a man who deeply loved a woman with all his heart and took care of her until the moment when he no longer could. And yet he still loved her even beyond the grave.

This memoir really taught me a lot about Joe DiMaggio as a ball player and his amazing talent but more so than that it revealed who he was as an individual something perhaps he even himself could not do because of his very private nature. It was honest and candid. There was no glossing over the “good, the bad or the dirty”. We learn of DiMaggio’s ego, his jealousy and temper and even alleged domestic abuse. However we also learn of a man who tried to stand by the woman he loved no matter what.

Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil by Jerome Charyn is a engrossing tale of a man larger than life and a romance that few knew the extent of. Fans of DiMaggio and Marilyn alike will find its pages informative and filled with facts probably not known by any but the most well researched fans and experts. The book is a great contribution to an era that is often glamorized but while it celebrates that world of glitz and fame, it also remains truthful and reflective- something only the best memoirs do.

You can find more information on this book and its author Jerome Charyn on Twitter. A special thanks to Tribute Books for the chance to review Joe DiMaggio: The Long Vigil. You can enter to win your own copy from them and read their review here. Also make sure to check out the additional stops of the Blog Tour for this book.

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Filed under Adult Books, Blog Tour, New Books, Non-Fiction