Temple Grandin wasn’t like other children. While most children took no notice of whirring fans, loud voices, or the clanging school bell, to Temple the fan sounded like a dentist’s drill, the voices like a roaring jet, and the bell like a woodpecker knocking on her head. When her mother or other people tried to hug Temple, “all she saw was a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne coming at her all at once.”
Still, hugs intrigued Temple. When she witnessed people hugging, she wondered how hugs felt and how they offered comfort.
Temple loved making and building things: paper kites, an obstacle course for her dog, a child-sized house with hinged doors. When she was older, she attended a special boarding school where she excelled in many ways, including horseback riding and other building projects. During a summer on a ranch, she developed special relationships with animals and saw for the first time a squeeze chute in which cows were held so the vet could examine them.
This gave Temple an idea. Using pieces of wood, wire, a pulley, and pillows, she built a special box whose sides could be pulled up to envelop her in a “hug.” In her very own hug machine, loud noises disappeared and she felt happy and secure. Eventually, Temple outgrew her hug machine. Today, she is able to hug people.
In this deeply affecting picture book, young children will meet Temple Grandin and learn about the struggles and strengths of children on the autism spectrum.
Authors’ notes relate how Dr. Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, is renowned for her advocacy of the humane treatment of animals, and for her courage in speaking publicly about her life with autism. (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)