Literary Criticism and Significance

Rules, Cynthia Lord’s first novel, was inspired by the author’s experience of raising two children, one with ADHD, and witnessing the complex relationship that developed between them. Released in 2006,Rules was extraordinarily successful for a first novel, winning a number of awards including a 2007 Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, the Mitten Award from the Michigan Library Association, the Great Lakes Great Books Award, the Maine Student Book Award, Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, Kentucky Bluegrass Award, Great Stone Face Award and the Buckeye Children’s Book Award. The novel was also named one of the New York Public Library’s One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing, was a KidPost Book of the Week in the Washington Post, a Notable Children’s Book in the Language Arts, and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book.

Reviews for Rules were almost unanimously positive, with Booklistcalling the novel “heartwarming” and Kirkus Reviews praising the portrayal of Catherine as an engaging, believable character whose problems are realistically and compellingly realized. Publisher’s Weeklyalso noted the “appealing, credible narrator” of Lord’s novel and pointed out the story’s ability to open readers to alternative points of view. Joan Kindig, writing for Children’s Literature, praised the novel’s realistic depiction of one child’s effect on an entire family. School Library Journalcalled the story a “sensitive,” “lovely” and “warm” read about difference and acceptance, while the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Bookspraised the novel’s message of appreciating people for who they are “even when it’s difficult” to do so. A reviewer for Kid Lit: Books and More For Kids and Teens not only noted the book’s strong rhythm and style, but also called Rules a book siblings of special needs children “need to read.” Library Media Connection recommended the novel as an enjoyable read with an engaging narrator, as well as a book that will help young readers understand autism and its impact on entire families.