Written by South Portland resident Julie Falatko (author of the Snappsy the Alligator series), “No Boring Stories!” is the kind of picture book that parents will find as entertaining as the children it’s intended for. The book is about a misfit collection of friends who are co-writing their own tale of adventure; their book within the book involves a laser-shooting carrot (“BAM! WHIZZ! PFOO!”) and hulking grape monsters who attack an innocent princess.

“No Boring Stories!” teaches lessons of collaboration, persistence, friendship and avoiding stereotype, not to mention unfamiliar animal names and the elements that make up a story. But that makes it sound heavy-handed. It’s not – it’s funny, fun and charming, as are the illustrations. Beyond that, any book that sings the virtues of original storytelling is music to this writer’s ear.

According to the advocacy group Autism Speaks, one in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. “How to Build a Hug” tells young children a piece of the story behind Dr. Temple Grandin, probably America’s most famous person with autism. It does so with terrific folk-art illustrations, beautiful interplay between text and pictures and nice use of language.

Toward the end of the book, Grandin builds a machine to help her feel snug and safe: “‘It’s a snuggle apparatus!’ said her aunt. ‘It’s a squeeze-a-majiggy!’ said her uncle. ‘It’s a squish box!’ said the ranch hand. ‘It’s a hug machine,’ thought Temple.” “How to Build a Hug” relates Grandin’s story without ever once using the word “autistic.” Co-writer Jacqueline Tourville lives in Maine and says that her “experience as a public school teacher working with children with autism opened her eyes to the importance of inclusive stories for kids.”


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