Friday, October 16, 2020

Review: Juan Has the Jitters by Aneta Cruz


by Aneta Cruz
Illustrated by Miki Yamamoto
North Atlantic Books
Picture Book
32 pags
ages 4 to 8

An interactive children's book about inclusion, diversity, and the power of math to help one boy with autism thrive amongst his peers.

Juan claps his hands to get his Jitters out. They make his tummy swoosh and swirl. They happen when there are too many people, too much noise, or too many changes to his day. Juan doesn't like surprises!

Tomorrow there is an athletic event planned at school, which makes Juan very nervous. But his teacher has the perfect solution! Math--Juan's favorite subject! Counting, sorting, and matching help Juan to calm his Jitters. They focus his mind and keep him engaged. By making math part of the day's athletic games, and by appointing Juan the official judge, he can have fun and feel included. The class is calling it the Mathletic Games!

Juan Has the Jitters is an interactive children's story about how one boy manages his autism. It is a lesson in the power of inclusion, as the class takes steps to normalize Juan's special qualities. Colorfully illustrated, this book invites young readers to help Juan as he counts, matches, and sorts both people and objects from the games. Parents of children 4 to 8 years-old can use this book to help teach kids about diversity and the beauty in what makes every one of us unique. Teachers will find the book meets Common Core standard and nurtures multiple domains of scholastic development.


Inclusion, awareness of others and autism come together in a tale, which holds a message but still manages to keep to a fun situation.

Juan has the jitters. He often does when something falls out of the usual routine. So, he handles it with an amazing amount of control. But he's not alone as his teacher and class have a fun day, which manages to help him cope with his jitters and enjoy himself as well.

This book is well done and does a good job at presenting Juan as a normal kid, who simply approaches things/life a little different. He needs rhythm in his routine, and when the strays away, he uses clapping and counting to keep himself grounded. The author does a great way of presenting is problem by letting it simply happen. Listeners/readers get to watch Juan in his life and see how things work out wonderfully. It's a warming book, which offers tons of smiles, encouragement, and shows how great things can be. And it deserves a thumbs up for that.

As a mother with a child with autism, I could only smile and wonder, though. It's never said what Juan's problem a introduction or afterword or anything. Listeners will want to know what's up with Juan because it's clear something is and curiosity is part of life. Plus, Juan's way of dealing things only works for a smidgen of those with autism. I've also very rarely come across a kid who is so self-aware of his issue as Juan is at that age. 

Still, I do find this to be an excellent book in many ways and am impressed with how seamlessly all aspects are placed together. This book will be a wonderful addition to any group discussions focusing on autism or for those children, who know someone who has a very similar like Juan, to help them better understand the person.

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