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Ways to Play

Riley has plenty of ways to play; like lining up dolls and stuffies by size and shape. Tearing up newspapers and making piles into mountains, using sharp crayons to draw big swirly patterns. But bossy cousin Emma thinks those ways are wrong, wrong, and wrong. And she makes no bones about letting Riley know exactly what her opinion is. Fortunately, Charlie the dog is on hand to help with a breakthrough demonstration that there are MANY ways to play; and all of them are right.

Based on experiences that Lyn Miller Lachman had growing up as an Autistic child and illustrated with the humor, tenderness and understanding that perhaps only an artist like Gabriel Alborozo, himself an Autistic creator, could bring, here is an empowering validation of the value of individual expression. And a whole lot of fun.

“Inspired by her own childhood, Miller-Lachmann…is keenly aware that there are many ways of having a good time, and the straightforward, spare first-person narration centers Riley’s experience. Although it’s never explicitly mentioned that Riley has a diagnosis…many neurodivergent children will feel seen and affirmed.” — Kirkus [starred review]

“The poignant text teams together with ebullient drawings, delivering a welcome and heartwarming message for all young readers.” — School Library Journal [starred review]

“Cousins find common ground through play in a simple story with an instructional thrust from an autistic creative team….Declarative first-person text from Miller-Lachmann emphasizes creative, cousin-connecting Riley’s experience… Fine-lined ink and wash artwork from Alborozo 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.” — Publishers Weekly

“Alborozo’s mixed-media illustrations are all rounded corners, soft lines, and gentle pastel hues, giving the book a peaceful feeling appropriate to its quiet protagonist… Negotiating relationships with children who play differently is a universal experience…and this [book] will strike a chord with many readers.” — Horn Book

Miller-Lachmann, Lyn. Ways to Play. Illus. by Gabriel Alborozo. Levine Querido, 2023. 32 pp. ISBN 978-1-64614-259-0, $18.99. Also available in e-book and audiobook.

Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books, 2024 (Under Five)