(A copy of this book was provided for review.)
When the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was in theaters a beautiful story went viral. An autistic child saw a kindred spirit in Drax. The way Drax understood things literally was very similar to the way the child saw the world and the kid was thrilled to finally have not only representation but also a way to explain how his brain works to his parents.
Now Matthew K. Manning brings the world, Guide to Groot: A Sound Book and this book could yield similar results.
The Guide to Groot is a handbook to understanding what the tree alien is saying. Rocket Raccoon is nice enough to write the children’s book for us, and explain the nuances of what his teammate is saying. The book has 10 buttons on the side which can be pressed with the corresponding pages. Each numbered button has a short sentence. “I am Groot.”
In this age of social media posts and text messaging it has never been more important to learn it’s not what you say, but how you say it. A lesson not only for kids reading this book, but also for any adult who may be reading it with them. Rocket tells us the first “I am Groot” button is for “Hello,” and with this guide I can’t help but agree. It sounds warm and non threatening. Just a nice tree guy trying to make friends. I can type the quote an infinite amount of times but hearing the tone and inflection make all the difference.
Questions, assurances, confidence, rage, and even love are all given a page. It works. Reading along with your child will remind every adult that listening is an active response. If Groot appeared before me right now I feel I could have a conversation with him that I would completely understand. Or, if a child who might have trouble expressing him or herself just wants to be heard.
Learning to speak has to be the toughest skill for a child to learn. Walking is two legs and training muscles. Talking demands mastery of not only your own words, mind, and emotions, but also an understand of those same aspects in the person you’re talking to. I found myself really listening to how my son said things after we read this book together. Is he actually scared, or hungry, or mad or is it the best word he currently knows to express a new feeling. It made me remember what it felt like to think no one is listening. I not only changed how I listened to him, but also how I expressed myself to him. Just because I know what I’m talking about does not mean he does.
This book might slip under the radar as just another comic book based one. I would urge parents to pick it up in the bookstore and try it out. Sitting down with this book one night could really help open up communication with your child.