Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Inspiration, hold the gloss

I finished reading A Smile as Big as the Moon last week in a few big servings; it's a real page-turner for anybody who's ever been frustrated by the lack of specialness in special education. I can't quite imagine my son ever making it to Space Camp and succeeding in the way these teens do, but if he were going to, it would be the way author and teacher Mike Kersjes goes about it: tons and tons of preparation, and then some more preparation on top of that. I like the fact that it was the very things they needed because of their special needs that ultimately proved to be their greatest strength in competition. The other Space Camp cadets may have been brilliant and talented and self-confident, but nobody had studied harder. This is the sort of thing I'll be reminding myself of when I go over flashcards with my daughter next year, and read the textbook chapter to Her Cluelessness for the umpteenth time.

If the story of a classroom of troubled teens turned, sometimes in spite of themselves, into a winning team doesn't sound like a great beach read to you, hold on. The book is due to be turned into a Disney movie, and it doesn't need much meddling with to become a pretty fine triumph over adversity flick. Let's just hope they don't go for the cute-little-special-kids gloss that the illustrator of the paperback edition did. Those youngsters gazing at the moon sure do look sweet, but they're way too young, trim and well-groomed to be the bunch depicted in the book. Disney, don't smooth out those sharp corners too much; that's what makes these kids stars.

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