I recently received a book in the mail written by a mother and son duo: Ivonne (Lola) Hernandez and Eric Ruiz. Eric received a diagnosis of autism when he was three years old. This event threw Lola into a lifelong quest to understand autism and to educate others as to what she learned along the way.
Lola was born in Mexico but has been living in Marietta, Georgia for close to twenty years. During this period of time she has taught preschool, elementary and high-school . She holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Media Communication and Broadcasting, a master’s degree in Spanish Language and Culture, and a certificate in clinical diagnostics and treatments for autism in the school environment. Lola currently supports a nonprofit organization assisting new parents of children diagnosed with special needs. In this, her first book entitled “Animals, Love, Friendship”, she makes use of art to illustrate many of the daily struggles faced by children with autism and some of the positive qualities by which they overcome these difficulties.
The written portions of the book allude to the wonderful human qualities that enable our resilience. Along the way, the reader gets to know about autism and the delightful differences in personality that constitute the broad spectrum of humanity. It is copiously illustrated by artwork from Eric, from when he was sixteen years old. Eric drew the animals and Lola helped with the coloration. The artwork has a childish quality that is very appealing. The figures are deeply intricate with many geometrical patterns and explosions of bright color. I was genuinely impressed by the fact that the intricate drawings were all made with magic markers as the art media is unforgiving whenever you make a mistake. Eric has inserted phrases in both Spanish and English in the figures. They are all positive messages that clearly go beyond the concrete understanding of the text. I have been told that they were the result of interospection and meditation on the part of Lola. Lessons are learned from the qualities of animals and given symbolic meaning when they relate to personal values that have a deep or significant meaning to the reader. For those interested in getting to know Eric a little bit more, he has several videos on YouTube where he talks about Dinosaurs. Unsurprisingly, Eric’s handle in social media is the Dinosaur Master.
The book is published by Hippo House Publishing and available through Amazon. It is only $15, an appropriate price considering the glossy paper needed for the illustrations. Along with the book comes a guide on how to use the book as an educational resource in the classroom or at home, e.g., “Take the opportunity to review the animal’s characteristics with the children by conducting learning games and activities. For example, ask questions that can be recorded on a Venn diagram: Which animals have four legs, two legs, tails, etc…. Choose 2 animals from the story and write a conversation they would have with each other.… Close the book and take a class vote, which will be the animal of the day? Ask specific questions about the animal of the day.”
Overall, I thought the book was a gem both for its lessons and artwork. I was planning on framing some of the pages of the book and using them in my home and office. Every time I open the same, read it or look at its illustrations, it makes me happy. I have read many books, but only a few I can recommend wholeheartedly, this is certainly one of them. For those interested in obtaining more information, Lola has a video, in Spanish, introducing the book (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfQtzhwpWy8). The Spanish edition of the book entitled “Animales, amor, amistad” can be obtained from Amazon for only $7.95 Prime hardcover. The cover is different from the English edition because it was published by a different company, Editorial Urano, Mexico