4 out of 4 stars
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Is there a place where you feel most comfortable? A place where you can be yourself and not worry about what others think of you and what you’re capable of? Let’s follow Philip and his assistant dog, Sabre, to a place where everything seems perfect in the short story, That Place of Knowledge by Philip Alan Shalka.
Sabre is an autism assistance dog whose companion is Philip. This loyal dog assists the teenage boy in the best way a dog can – by listening. One day, the two enter a swimming pool that leads to a hidden trap door. The trap door then leads to a secret city, in Ancient Greek, which is a more relaxing city where Sabre takes note of Philip's comfort level. Deep conversations are held between Philip and the famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle, that will leave the reader wanting more.
Having the perspective be of the dog allowed the author to have his narrator be more of a background listener and really let Philip shine. Though we get to know a bit of Sabre and the encouraging Aristotle, Philip is the one that takes the lead here.
While reading, the reader could guess that Philip is nonverbal and has difficulties in communicating and demonstrating his capabilities in his own world. But, when he enters the Ancient Greek world where everything is in order and just right for Philip, he can talk and show what he can do. Themes of accepting yourself, persistence, and finding happiness within yourself creates a very touching plot.
One of my favorite aspects of the book, aside from the general concept, are the use of the corridors. Philip enters these corridors with his best bud, Sabre, through which, he can explore the corridor of Math, or perhaps Science, and maybe even politics. The options are endless and the doorway is just the beginning. I can easily see these corridors as ones that are present in Philip’s ever-expanding mind. Just like Aristotle tells this young teenager, this is just the beginning, there is so much more to learn.
Though there were some commas missing here and there, the book was written well and concise. Much of the book is in dialogue form, which really suits Philip’s characters since, as stated before, he is nonverbal in his world. I can only imagine how much he would like to express his opinions in his real world.
Overall, I enjoyed every minute of this thought-provoking read and can really see how this may help those who don’t understand autism gain a bit more perspective. I used to teach children with autism and this book spoke to my heart. On purpose, I left this note for the end – the author is a young man who has autism and was determined to write a short story, and I’m happy to say he wrote a really good one. I gladly give this a 4 out of 4 stars rating and recommend it to mature middle schoolers, older students, and adults who would like to understand autism a bit more.
That Place of Knowledge
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