By: Jeanne Gehret, M.A.
Illustrated by: Michael LaDuca
Publisher: Verbal Images Press
Publication Date: September 2009
Reviewed by: Pamela Victor
Review Date: July 2009
Houdini’s Gift is one of the helpful pictures books in Jeanne Gehret’s The Coping Series, a collection of books for children with learning disabilities or ADD/ADHD and their adult supporters. Using colorful illustrations by Michael LaDuca and short, precise descriptions, Houdini’s Gift tells the story of Ben and how his ADHD affects his care for his pet hamster. Although Ben adores Houdini, his hamster, he doesn’t notice when he lives true to his name and escapes for good. Although Ben clearly misses his pet, his parents seem concerned that he is not responsible enough to have one. In Houdini’s Gift, Gehret provides a highly practical lesson about how Ben’s parents use a reward chart to help Ben stay focused on his responsibilities, proving that he can take care of a new pet. Soon Ben earns enough points on his reward chart to go to the pet store to choose his new furry companion.
All the books in The Coping Skills series can be used by parents and teachers alike to provide applicable strategies for children with learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD. In the back of Houdini’s Gift, Gehret provides 17 discussion starters that prompt children to recall facts from the story as well as apply Ben’s story to their own lives.
In the postscript, Gehret further explains how reward charts work best for children with ADHD, and indeed all children, to give them a boost in their organizational abilities. Gehret’s tips on formulating reward charts are clear and concise, so parents get a graspable understanding on how best to use these charts for their own children. She writes, “Like adults, children enjoy having some control over their lives. While they are using reward charts, their independence grows as they take positive steps to increase their own comfort and happiness. You, on the other hand, can stop nagging and start enjoying more quality time with your youngster.”
Quill says: Houdini’s Gift would make a wonderful gift for the special children in your life!