Jo's Special Gifts -- Review & Giveaway

Disclosure: I was sent a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I am working with The Children's Book Review and Mariam Shapera to bring you this review and giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Do you know anyone with autism? According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 36 children are diagnosed with autism as of 2020. It is getting diagnosed more often. In 2000 the statistic was 1 in 150. It is also four times more common in boys than girls. (Source) I teach and have taught many students on the autism spectrum. I also have friends who kids' have been diagnosed with it. In fact, the only time I have had a guest blogger was my friend sharing her own experience as the mother of an autistic child. Today I get to share a very special picture book about a boy with autism and some of his behaviors, characteristics, etc. The book is Jo's Special Gifts by Mariam Shapera and illustrated by Lorna Humphreys. 

About the Book:

Jo’s Special Gifts Written by Mariam Shapera and Illustrated by Lorna Humphreys
Ages 4+ | 39 Pages | Publisher: Mariam Shapera | ISBN-13: 979-8-9896337-0-8

Publisher’s Book Summary: Join Jo, an enthusiastic, curious and sensitive boy, as he shares his autistic joys and challenges with you. This is an emotional journey that celebrates neurodiversity and embracing one’s own gifts. This heartwarming rhyming story celebrates the unique gifts that each person can bring to the world. You will love entering this amazing autistic brain as we celebrate Jo’s special gifts.


About the Author:

Mariam Shapera who is a family doctor and Autism advocate, was raised in the United Kingdom but now lives in California with her husband and three children. ‘Having to learn to advocate for my autistic son, Jo, I wanted to combine my love for writing children’s books with my goal of increasing autism acceptance. I have observed countless times the way Jo pursues his interests and passions and the autistic joy they bring him. So this book was born.’

For more information, visit: 

About the Illustrator

Lorna Humphreys lives in the United Kingdom with her partner, her two daughters and her cat. She works with authors all over the world and, through her illustrations, helps bring many wonderful stories to life. ‘My eldest daughter, Olivia, is autistic and struggles with social interaction and emotional regulation. When Mariam asked if I would collaborate with her, I was delighted to have the opportunity to illustrate a book that would mean so much to children like Jo and Olivia, to remind them of how special and gifted they are!’

From Me:

As I mentioned in the introduction, I have taught and teach many students with autism. This book is a view into the mind and behavior of people with autism. It is a powerful book that is great for parents of autistic children to read. In fact, there are resources at the end for parents to help them connect and make choices for their autistic children. It is also a great book to introduce kids to people with autism and perhaps help explain some of their different behaviors. I love that the book shares some normal kid things like interest in space but also shares how hyperfocused Jo can be about space. It shares behaviors like yelling out words, numbers, etc. It also shares some of the ways Jo is different in things like kissing and touching.  The book shares that Jo has some differences in the way his mind works but he is still a kid who likes to be with his friends and likes to learn. The story flows well and really help the reader better understand an autistic person and how they may need patience and behave differently.

The illustrations in this book are great. There is a diverse group represented in the book. The pages are colorful and full of action. The book is a must read for anyone working with autistic people. It is something I hope will be read to children to help them understand why some friends behave differently. For some other books to help kids understand friends and peers with autism check out these posts. (Note: there are books reviewed for different ages from picture books to young adult novels.)


Enter for your chance to win a signed hardcover copy of Jo’s Special Gifts, a signed copy of Mariam’s first book, Up Up You Go, Jo!, and a $25 Starbucks gift card. Good luck!