Waiting for Hugo by Amanda Niland
Ill. by Claire Richards. Windy Hollow Books, 2013. ISBN
(Age: 3-7) Recommended. Hugo loves counting. Even though he is only four, he is able to count all sorts of things and sorts them out in his head. This of course, takes some time, and can be rather frustrating for his family as they wait for him to finish. He is obsessive about his counting and his older sister has to learn how to put up with his eccentricity. Then Hugo's skill wins him some prizes and his sister realises that having a quirky brother can bring rewards.
Amanda Niland is an early childhood educator and brings her experience to this story about a young child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her story brings alive a loving family who are able to accommodate Hugo's counting and appreciate his wonderful mathematical ability. Children will be engrossed in the way that Hugo counts, and this is brought alive by Claire Richards' illustrations which often have a captain cloud where the reader can see just how Hugo is working out the numbers. It is fascinating for the reader to count along with Hugo in his shorter calculations and see if the same number is reached. This is an aspect of the book that will bring young and old back to ponder just how he works out counting.
The themes of diversity and difference are explored in a heart-warming way and would give rise to interesting classroom discussion as well as being a great book to share. It would be also very useful when looking at how to add, sort and count in a Maths lesson.