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2011 May 12
by prgiff

It’s not often you read a book you’ll never forget. But I’ve just finished THE BOY IN THE MOON, A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son. Written by Ian Brown, published by Random House, this is a remarkable book that will make you think about your relationships with others, and especially how you feel about the disabled.
The title points out that although we see the face in the moon, we know he’s really not there. And Walker, Ian Brown’s son? This account involves a boy who was born with CFC, a condition so rare, that only a few children in the world had been diagnosed with it. Walker’s face is mildly distorted; he cannot talk, he is fed through a tube in his stomach, he smashes his fists into the sides of his head, he functions on the level perhaps of a one- to three- year old.
Ian Brown is unflinching in describing life with Walker, the terrible lack of sleep, the cost of keeping Walker alive and safe, the worries, the fears, the anger, but so much more, the shining love of a father for his son, of his search to know this unknowable boy.
Roger Rosenblatt provides a wonderful review in the New York Times Book Review section (May 8th) which involves so much of what Ian Brown learned about his son, and about himself which is the heart of the book.
But my concentration this morning is something Brown was told. If he could teach Walker to sign for yes and for no, he could change his world. He could give his son choices; he could give him some measure of control over his life. A stunning possibility!
It makes me think of our lives as parents and teachers. What do we teach? What is important for humans to learn? Just that. What can we give children that will change their worlds? Teachers especially have to make that choice. In today’s classroom where every moment must have weight in the growth of students, what will we decide to teach? Read this book. It will make a difference.

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