When I picked Beautiful Child off the bookshelf, I was expecting something a little different. I was prepared to read another run-of-the-mill book about child abuse, neglect, and the difficulties in saving one child from a horrific home life. However, I decided to read this book, even though it didn’t look very interesting; after all, I was taught not to judge a book by its cover. Sitting down to read later that night, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only is Beautiful Child a good book, but it’s an exceptionally good book! This is the story of Venus Fox, a seven-year-old child who seems not to be there. She spends her days silent and still, not responding to anything that people say or do to her. Torey Hayden is Venus’ teacher, and she writes about her problems teaching, communicating with, and breaking through to Venus. Hayden’s style – full of detail – contributes to the fast pace of the story, and was one of the reasons I got hooked on this book. When Torey Hayden, a teacher for mentally challenged children, first sees Venus Fox, she has no idea of the problems troubling the young girl. Hayden quickly realizes that young Venus is completely unresponsive. She doesn’t talk, doesn’t listen, and won’t respond to anything Hayden tries. Surprisingly, however, an unintentional bump on the playground can cause Venus to go into a raving fit, screaming and crying. As the school year goes on, Hayden learns more about Venus’ problematic home life, past, and personality, and through understanding, begins to learn how to breakthrough to her. The pace of “Beautiful Child” is fast – Hayden keeps the reader engaged at all times. She uses fast-paced syntax to keep the story going. This is a necessity, because she has an entire school year to fit into a 385-page-long book. Hayden uses humor in her story too, sometimes not purposely, because her students tend to get into silly situations. The main element that keeps the reader going, however, is how emotional...
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