Written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, is a children’s biography told in rhyme about the inimitable Temple Grandin. If you’re not familiar with Temple, she has single-handedly created more awareness around animal welfare (specifically the lives of farm animals) than just about any other person. She is practically a household name and tours the country giving talks and presentations. There’s even a movie about her starring Claire Danes! Grandin has long advocated for “humane slaughter”, a phrase animal liberation advocates would argue is contradictory; but she nonetheless prescribes standards for facilities design and proper restraint and stunning techniques that are intended to cause the least amount of pain and suffering in the animals being slaughtered. You can check out Temple’s website to learn more about the extensive work she has done in the field.
In The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, author Mosca discusses Grandin’s childhood as a person with autism and her deep connection with animals. Temple did not speak until age three or after, and, apparently, doctors initially told Temple’s mother they suspected she had “no brain activity”. Soon after being kicked out of school, Temple moves out west with her aunt, an owner of a ranch, and it isn’t long before Temple serendipitously embarks on her lifelong journey as an animal scientist and public speaker. She has worked tirelessly to create change in the practice of animal agriculture that is in compliance with the highest ethical standards after many years of communing with and studying the behavior of animals. Additionally, her persistence helps to create and foster an understanding of people who fall along the autism spectrum and to demonstrate that being autistic should not hold you back from a life of happiness and success.
The takeaways in this book are many:
- Humans are dismissive of what we don’t understand
- We can learn to listen to others who speak a language that is different than our own
- We nonetheless still have a myopic and narrow view of human intelligence and cognitive ability
- Animals feel emotion and pain
- We should not be defined by others but instead strive to live an authentic life
- We can and should advocate for those whose voices are not heard
- We should leave things better than how we found them
And last but definitely not least: persist, persist, persist! There are certainly many, many more morals of the story, but you’ll have to read the book to see for yourself. Personally, I was inspired while reading this picture book and think children would also find this an uplifting story. Plus, children are often more sensitive and receptive to the plight of animals than many adults–so we have much to learn from them!