Jay often feels out of place in the world around him, but doesn't know why. Being called names like 'space cadet' and 'asp-booger' confuses him even further. He has looked up 'asp' in the dictionary and knows he is not an asp, a 'small poisonous snake from Egypt'. But what is he then? Caroline Levine's short novel, "Jay Grows an Alien", follows Jay, a young boy with Asperger Syndrome, at school and home. Over the course of the novel, as he deals with bullies, faces the difficulties of a sibling relationship, and befriends a cyborg from outer space, Jay begins to find his place and comes to understand that differences in him and others are unique and special. Intended for children ages 9 to 14 with Asperger Syndrome, as well as their neurotypical peers, Jay Grows an Alien helps anyone see that 'there are many parts of Asperger's that are positive'. As Jay's dad points out, 'You wouldn't want to lose them'. In addition to independent reading, the book can be used by teachers to promote understanding of differences.
Following Jay's story is a section entitled 'Sayings and What They Mean' that covers the implied meanings of commonly used slang and idioms that literal-minded students like Jay often find confusing.