Title: Butt Sandwich & Tree
Author: Wesley King
Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction
Number of Pages: 272
I wasn’t sure about this book based on the title, but a book blogger said it wasn’t overly silly or reliant on bathroom humor and I’m always interested in books that have protagonists on the autism spectrum. Anyway! Butt Sandwich & Tree was super-cute and I’m looking forward to reading the author’s other books, OCDaniel and Sara and the Search for Normal.
The book is told from the perspectives of brothers Cedar and Green (yikes.) Cedar is popular and athletic, and he looks out for Green, who has mild autism (‘Butt Sandwich’ is Green’s riff on the now-defunct ‘Asperger’s Syndrome.’) Green is a shy nerd who frequently plays with a bouncy ball to calm down, and Cedar wants him to join the basketball team so he can become more confident and make some friends (basically, become more like him, even though Cedar’s intentions are good.)
Cedar convinces the coach to give Green a chance on the team even though he can’t play but shortly after the coach yells at Green his wedding band is stolen, and everyone thinks he took it. Coach is a widower and he’s devastated by the loss of the ring; he works the team harder and harder, which causes them to scapegoat Green even more.
Cedar and Green decide to do an investigation and find the real culprit, with the help of their grandfather and the rough-around-the-edges but surprisingly nice custodian, Maggie. There were some plausibility issues with the behavior of the adults (for instance, the despite his obvious eccentricity the grandfather helping them stake out the coach’s house was pretty far-fetched) but I enjoyed the book’s mix of lightheartedness and pathos and the supportive relationship between the two brothers.
The autism aspect of the book is also informative without being didactic and the story itself contains strong messages about not prejudging someone just because they’re different and standing up for those you care about. It’s not terrific by any means, but it’s breezy and sweet.