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Beautiful Child

 
 
 
 
Beautiful Child
Author: Torey Hayden
ISBN 13: 9780060508876
ISBN 10: 60508876
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 2003-04-29
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 400
List Price: $7.99
 
 

In the tradition of David Pelzer's A Child Called 'It' comes the unsettling story of a mute, almost catatonic seven–year–old and the special education teacher who tries to save her from the silence and abuse of her world.

Hayden has chronicled experiences from her long career as a special education teacher in several books, including One Child and The Tiger's Child. Successes in this difficult and often frustrating field can be few and hard won, a fact which Hayden deftly illustrates while simultaneously offering hope and joy in small victories. This time she brings to life the story of a scruffy seven–year–old, Venus, who is so unresponsive that Hayden searches for signs of deafness, brain damage or mental retardation. The author is relentless in her attempt to diagnose the cause of Venus's 'almost catatonic' state, which is punctuated by occasional violent outbursts. In this first–person narrative, Hayden also shares her own thoughts, worries and reflections on the strained relationship with a mismatched classroom aide, creating a rich tapestry of the dynamics of a group of special needs youngsters and the adults who try to help them.

Publishers Weekly

Hayden has chronicled experiences from her long career as a special education teacher in several books, including One Child and The Tiger's Child. Successes in this difficult and often frustrating field can be few and hard-won, which Hayden deftly illustrates while simultaneously offering hope and joy in small victories. This time she brings to life the story of a scruffy seven-year-old, Venus, who is so unresponsive that Hayden searches for signs of deafness, brain damage or mental retardation. Familiar with Venus's siblings, other teachers warn Hayden not to expect much from Venus. Yet the author is relentless in her attempt to diagnose the cause of Venus's "almost catatonic" state, which is punctuated by occasional violent outbursts. Suspecting "elective mutism," a refusal to talk "for psychological reasons," Hayden persists in trying to draw Venus out. Her patient dedication finally pays off when the girl shows an interest in She-Ra, Princess of Power comic books. From there, a story of domestic abuse, removal to foster care and a slow emergence from silent isolation unfolds. However, Venus is not the only fascinating character here. Hayden sets Venus's bittersweet and complex story against the backdrop of other students, including one boy with a very high IQ but behavioral problems, another with Tourette's syndrome and a girl who inexplicably spouts sophisticated poetry and talks to her hand. In this first-person narrative, Hayden also shares her own thoughts, worries and strained relationship with a mismatched classroom aide, creating a rich tapestry of the dynamics of a group of special needs youngsters and the adults who try to help them. (Aug. 20) Forecast: There are more than one million copies of Hayden's books in print, and Morrow plans to repackage her backlist titles to coincide with Beautiful Child's publication. The inspirational angle coupled with Hayden's name recognition should add up to excellent sales. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.