My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, he lets me join him.
Sometimes, he doesn’t.

My friend is like the sun.
Sometimes, he shines.
Sometimes, he disappears to a place I can’t see.

My friend is like a puppy dog.
Sometimes, he listens to what I say.
Sometimes, he just doesn’t understand.

My friend is like Abraham Lincoln.
Sometimes, people are amazed by his honesty.
Sometimes, they are angered by it.

My friend is like an Encyclopedia.
Sometimes, all his knowledge is very impressive.
Sometimes, I get bored and want to put him aside.

My friend lives in a world by himself.
Sometimes, I invite him to join my world.
Sometimes, he joins for awhile.

Ann Drew Jackson

Ann Drew Jackson is the sequel to Jackson Whole Wyoming and was borne out of my personal experience. After I wrote the first story, I started working in a pre-k through 8th grade school that served a large inner city population, rife with all the expected problems. Within that school there were students with Asperger Syndrome and other social/pragmatic language problems. Of course, there were also the students that had with issues associated with poverty, crime, neglect, and dysfunction. With time, watching some of the kids with Asperger Syndrome interact with certain other kids, I started re-thinking things. I thought- Wow! Asperger Syndrome might be a sort of “gift-” and I set out to show how and why I believe this.

Hillary Branson is a PIECE OF WORK! Angry, mean, deceitful, sassy, disobedient and more. But there are reasons for this. Jackson Thomas, who has Asperger Syndrome, has just moved from across the country and is the new student in her class. Through luck-of-the-draw, she and Jackson end up working on a science project together. To make things even crazier, she figures out that they are living in the same apartment complex. Let the learning begin! The story walks us through the evolution of this relationship, and the reader learns a lot about kids that that aren’t your run-of-the-mill types. They also learn what forgiveness, acceptance, and friendship really look like.

This book is a wonderful read for a classroom. It explores the reasons that kids do some of the things they do and react the way they react. Jackson’s naivety in contrast to Hillary’s savvy-ness, his honesty compared to her trickery, his faith in people versus her skepticism- these are all subtexts of the story. And in the end, Jackson’s Asperger way of being is just what Hillary needs. Readers will see the wonderful gift that Jackson so innocently brought to Hillary, just by being himself.

This book would make a great book study. I have created a set of discussion questions for each chapter, so feel free to use them:
Discussion Questions