Slug Days cover

By Sara Leach & Rebecca Bender

Slug Days

Lauren, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (an umbrella term that has included Asperger Syndrome since 2013), navigates the ups and downs of school and home life. School friendships have always been a challenge, but Lauren finds she is exactly the friend a brand new classmate needs

On slug days Lauren feels slow and slimy. She feels like everyone yells at her, and that she has no friends. Today there is a different bus driver; Dan and Sachi are sitting in Lauren’s seat on the bus; and Lauren’s teacher interrupts her reading time. It is definitely a slug day. But not every day is like this. On butterfly days Lauren makes her classmates laugh, or goes to get ice cream, or works on a special project with Mom.

Lauren has Autism Spectrum Disorder (an umbrella term that has included Asperger Syndrome since 2013), and she sees the world differently from many people. Sometimes this can be frustrating and makes Lauren want to flip her lid, especially at school where she learns differently from her classmates. But with support and stubbornness and a flair that’s all her own, Lauren masters tricks to stay calm, to understand others’ feelings, and to let her personality shine. She even manages to find common ground with her sticky, slobbery baby sister. Best of all, it is being different that gives Lauren insight into the insecurities of the new student, Irma.

Award-winning author Sara Leach writes Lauren’s endearing story with empathy and humor, and sends her flying off like a butterfly into a new chapter of life with a new friend.

Available In


Ages 7-10
ISBN: 978-1-77278-022-2
List Price: $18.95 CAD / $16.95 USD
Hardback with reinforced binding & with printed dust jacket
Trim Size: 5.50 x 7.50 inches / 13.97 x 19.05cm
Pages: 120

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 52

Paperback / softback

Ages 7-10
ISBN: 978-1-77278-032-1
List Price: $14.95 CAD / $12.95 USD
Paperback / softback
Trim Size: 5.50 x 7.50 inches / 13.97 x 19.05cm
Pages: 120

Distributed in Canada by University of Toronto Press

Distributed in the U.S. by Ingram Publisher Services

Carton Quantity: 52

About this book

Awards and Honours

  • 2018 Foreword INDIES: Juvenile Fiction Award (Short-listed) (United States)
  • 2018 ALA Schneider Family Book Award (Short-listed) (United States)
  • 2019 Chocolate Lily Award: Chapter Book/Early Novel (Long-listed) (Canada)
  • 2018 Horn Book, "August 2018 Back-to-School Horn Book Herald: Intermediate" selection (Commended) (United States)
  • 2018 USBBY Outstanding International Books List - Grades 3-6 selection (Commended) (United States)
  • 2018 A Mighty Girl, "A Different Way of Thinking: 20 Books About Autistic Mighty Girls" selection (Commended) (United States)
  • 2018 Huffpost, "17 Books That Promote Understanding of Autism" selection (Commended) (United States)
  • 2018 Canadian Children's Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Starred Selection (Commended) (Canada)


Praise for Slug Days

2017 Foreword INDIES Juvenile Fiction Award Finalist

2018 ALA Schneider Family Middle School Book Award Finalist

2019 Chocolate Lily Award: Chapter Book/Early Novel nominee

2018 Huffpost, “17 Books That Promote Understanding of Autism” selection

2018 A Mighty Girl, “A Different Way of Thinking: 20 Books About Autistic Mighty Girls” selection

2018 USBBY Outstanding International Books List selection

2018 Canadian Children’s Book Centre Best Books for Kids & Teens Spring Edition Starred Selection

“Lauren’s narrative voice is honest, poignant, and spot-on in describing her often baffled perceptions…Bender’s pencil-and-digital illustrations appear on nearly every generously leaded spread. Her tender, winsome depictions of Lauren, sometimes endearingly engaged but other times steamy with anger, broaden the tale and make it accessible to even children transitioning to chapter books. This nondidactic effort is a fine, affecting addition to the literature for kids on the spectrum and for those who know those kids — in short, for just about everyone.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Bender’s pencil drawings readily reflect characters’ frustrations and other emotions — feelings that Lauren acknowledges she has trouble recognizing. Leach’s empathetic novel should both open eyes and encourage greater patience and understanding.”—Publishers Weekly

“A necessary addition to elementary school libraries and a potential spark for a discussion about autism, Asperger’s, or simply embracing differences.”—School Library Journal

“On ‘slug days’ Lauren feels ‘slow and slimy.’ She’s aware of how her autism spectrum disorder makes her behave differently from her classmates, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to know how to act. The first-person narration makes Lauren’s logic clear, even as readers may see why something she does is funny…Lauren has plenty of support from the adults around her, who provide hints about responding to social cues and strategies such as squeezing a ball or an eraser in stressful moments. (Leach’s experience teaching students with ASD, mentioned in the appended author’s note, shows in the specificity of these suggestions.) Lauren’s happier ‘butterfly days’ become something to root for, as she bonds with her baby sister and eventually makes a friend. Frequent clear pencil and digital illustrations break up the sometimes-long paragraphs and should help young readers understand Lauren’s emotions and others’ reactions.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Slug Days wisely presents autism as neither disability nor exceptionalism. It’s a fact that Lauren lives with; it shapes her encounters without necessarily limiting them. At the book’s core lies a wish that anyone can identify with: the need for a friend. This winsome, gentle introduction to differences will be a positive addition to school and home libraries.”—Foreword Reviews

“A thoroughly ‘kid friendly’ story that is as entertaining as it is informative, Slug Days is unreservedly recommended as an important and highly valued addition to preschool, elementary school and community library collections for children ages 4 to 8.”—Midwest Book Review

“In creating a nuanced, formidable character, Leach tackles a challenging topic with skill and even some lightness.”—Quill & Quire

Slug Days is a sensitive, playful, lovingly told chapter book about school, friends, and days both good and bad, drawn from author Sara Leach’s real-life experiences in classrooms….Whether she’s making homes for insects, visiting her favourite tree, or playing with her baby sister, Lauren is a lovable character at the centre of a relevant story. I hope Slug Days reaches a wide audience of parents, teachers, librarians, and kids: it’s a winner!”—Resource Links Magazine

“Sara Leach’s writing is dependable in its craftsmanship, including appropriate word choice for this age group, and Lauren’s first-person voice is clear and direct. In addition, Rebecca Bender’s engaging black-and-white illustrations offer consistent support for reading comprehension….[Slug Days] will find an audience in readers who wish to learn about diversity from a trustworthy source. Recommended.”—CM Magazine

“Author Sara Leach’s experience teaching kids with ASD allows her to create a realistic portrayal of life through their eyes. This empathetic chapter book, filled with black and white illustrations on nearly every page, is perfect for sparking conversation with elementary school children about understanding and embracing differences.”—A Mighty Girl, “A Different Way of Thinking: 20 Books About Autistic Mighty Girls”

“This book would be a wonderful discussion starter, and would be helpful both for children who are on the autism spectrum as well as for their classmates and friends. The winsome illustrations on nearly every page should further endear Lauren to readers, and also encourage early chapter book readers….I liked everything about this book. The author managed to convey Lauren’s difficulties without making her unlikable.”—Youth Services Book Review

“Sara Leach makes Lauren’s voice young and blatant, focusing on what is important to the child and often ignoring what others deem priorities. Who the girl is, is undisguised….The voice is the most compelling element of Sara Leach’s Slug Days, as it should be. Here is Lauren’s story, up close and personal. Whether readers can empathize is not on Sara Leach but on the readers themselves because the author makes it clear and it is an arresting text spoken true by a child on the spectrum.”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“As we see Lauren encounter different situations in her life, in the classroom, at home, and elsewhere, we learn the different types of challenges that she must deal with. This book works well to explain some of the typical challenges for children on the spectrum, and shows some of the different techniques that can help….The illustrations are charming simple black and white drawing, but give a sense of the situations Lauren finds herself in. A great choice.”—Canadian Bookworm

“5 out of 5 stars!!!…Sara Leach does a fantastic job of letting us into the mind of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a must read for anyone that works in a school system. This book should teach us patience and understanding. The illustrations are incredible also. They really depict the emotions that Lauren go through throughout her day.”—Blazer Tales

“This amazing book…offers a window into the world of a child with ASD…Slug Days is an easy to read story for children in late first, early second and older. The charming illustrations add so much to the story and will keep even a reluctant reader reading. This book is one that needs to be in every public and elementary collection.”—Red Canoe Reader

“Using Lauren’s voice to tell her story gives it an immediacy and honesty that make it easier for readers to feel the frustrations she sees in her world….This perceptive and sensitive tale chronicles a week in the life of a young, determined girl who thinks differently than many others. She is learning and we are learning with her.”—Sal’s Fiction Addiction

“This is a story that can be read by anyone of any age….You may not know anyone with Asperger’s yet, but someday you probably will and if you have read this book, it will help you to understand and accept. A must for every school and professional library. Every teacher needs to read this as well.”—Carla Johnson Hicks, Librarian

“Through the story in this book the author helps us to see how even the simplest things can become monumental problems for someone with ASD. Readers will come to appreciate how hard Lauren tries, and they will be happy for her when she succeeds, and when she figures out how to help someone else who is having a hard time.”—Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews

“I feel annoyed reading books like this because I can really feel the pain that Lauren goes through. I have had teachers who didn’t understand me, and behaved very passive aggressively in response to my autism.…These books show how many autistic children experience life.”—Disability Rights UK, Aurelia (aged 11)

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Additional Resources

Teaching Guide

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