Kiara Brinkman 's Up High In The Trees is the deeply moving and sensitive story of an eight-year-old boy, Sebby Lane. The story is fictional but it is clear that Brinkman understands her subject. Sebby narrates his own experience of the confusing world around him. He senses that he is different and that he sees and feels things much more vividly than others. Young Sebby Lane observes the world in great detail, describing the leaves on trees as "reddish orange, colors like fire" and library book pages as having a smell of pepper, "like how the wood floor smells at home." Sebby is autistic.
He suffers a crisis with the death of his mother. He doesn't understand her death, or why she is gone ,but only that she was his best friend and that he is lost without her. She understood him better than anyone and now she is gone. He asked her once where he was before he was here and she tells him, "Up high in the trees".
Sebby's father, his brother and sister clearly love him, but are struggling with the loss of a wife and mother and are having problems as well. Sebby is left to retreat further and further into himself. He is absent from school due to the death of his mother but finds some comfort in writing to his teacher, who is understanding and compassionate. His teacher answers his letters and tries to give him comfort and support as best she can.
Sebby tells us: "Sometime dad knocks on my head like my head is a door." "Sebby, he says, Earth to Sebby." "I come back then, but the things I know stay stuck where they are and I keep knowing them."
Sebby is a very special eight-year old child who allows us to enter his world. I believe that anyone who reads this book will come away with a better insight into the struggle with autism. What a brave and wonderful child!
Please learn more about autism by visiting these resources:
Books & Media on Autism in JCLC System
Health & Wellness Resource Center
Autism Society of America