Trey the Chef: Cooking Camp, by Kira Parris-Moore
My review: ★★★★★
Trey is a boy who loves cooking. He’s excited because it’s his first day of cooking camp. But when he arrives at camp, he finds the environment to be too noisy, the lights too bright, and the crowd uncomfortable. He begins to react with some coping behaviors, which make the kids around him question what’s going on. His teacher explains the situation with compassion, though, and helps calm Trey down. He gets back to cooking, and cooks such a great dish that all the kids start asking him to help them. At the end of the book are a few pictures of the real-life Trey and a few recipes for kids.
This is an all-around great book. It treats autism as something to be understood, not feared or pitied. It is empathetic on all sides: Kids with autism will find acceptance. Kids who are unfamiliar with autism will be taught to empathize with what kids like Trey are going through, and to react with calm and acceptance. The book also features a diverse set of people, both in the artwork and the photos from the recipes. The artwork is high quality. I can’t think of much that I’d change about the book, aside from my personal preference against rhyming books, and I would have liked to see a recipe from Trey himself.
This is a sequel to a previous book Trey the Chef, in a series called The Heroes We Know. The series features people with mental health and developmental challenges. I recommend that you check out the whole series.