Hanoch Piven, Illustrator & Educator
Do not be deceived by the apparent simplicity of Gallardo's drawings. Stripped of unneeded decorations these drawings will capture you with their purity. This purity is what this book is about. Pure love between a father and daughter. Love towards family and friends. Love towards life.
Tara Leniston, Actress and mother of a son with autism
Maria and Me is an endearing account of a father's view of his holiday with his daughter with autism. Beautifully illustrated and at times funny, this book provides an alternative way of explaining some of the common traits of autism.
Miguel Gallardo has a wonderful way of getting people's expressions and personalities with just a few lines, and his drawings are so expressive of life with his daughter. Splashes of red add to the dynamics of the story... A beautifully produced hardback, this book will give lots of pleasure to families coping with the sometime difficulties of living with autism. Not just for children, but for adults too!
Comics Worth Reading
The content is slight in terms of events, but the significance comes in attempting to build understanding about how it feels to take care of a child with autism. The upscale hardcover packaging and simple images make this a lovely gift for anyone interested in learning more about the condition as it affects day-to-day life, particularly since it doesn't demand much involvement from the reader.
María and Me is one of those books that defies categorisation, an increasingly common sight that I embrace with open arms. This isn't quite an illustrated prose book or a comic book in the traditional sense, but something in-between. Some pages are word-heavy, some resemble sketches, others take the form of illustrated schedules. Gallardo often switches to his daughter's perspective, his charmingly scrappy illustrations highlighted by a striking use of red that's often used to emphasise objects that draw her attention... Gallardo's warmth and sincerity go some way to articulating the trivialities and concerns of parenting an autistic child, in a manner that is loving but not overly didactic or sentimental. Those who can relate to Miguel's position, or are looking to dispel many of the misconceptions around it, will certainly get a lot more from this book and its earnest approach than the accidental reader.
The School Library Journal
Based on real life experiences of Maria and Miguel, it is an enlightening account of living with autism. The graphic novel format varies from cartoon, to pages of just narrative, to a scrapbook style of storytelling. Along the way the reader learns a lot about the myths of autism, but also raises awareness of the triggers for an incident, and the need to treat each individual uniquely. The drawings are in black and red which are an interesting counterpoint to the black capitals of the narrative... I found it useful and enjoyable.
Gina Davies, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist and autism expert
Miguel sees the humour in situations that would make many parents squirm. He views situations with the years of experience he has in knowing and loving his daughter and her quirky way of seeing the world. The drawings show us how he is feeling, how Maria feels and how the people around them react... Maria and Me gives us insight into the confusions, fears, wonder and delight that parents of children with autism live with every day. The story is funny, moving, and powerful without an ounce of sentimentality. This book should be on the reading list for all professionals working with individuals on the spectrum!
Dr Shalini Vohra, Senior Lecturer in marketing at Sheffield Hallam University and a member of the Sheffield Hallam Autism Research Partnership (SHARP)
Maria and Me is a graphic novel that follows the story of Maria, a 12 year old autistic girl, and her dad as they go on a holiday to the Canary Islands. Miguel's illustrations perfectly capture their experiences of the holiday and invite the reader on this journey. Miguel cleverly uses red coloured faces to show situations where Maria finds it hard because of the environment around her and how peoples 'looks' make this worse. We also get an insight into how Maria manages difficult situations such as by reminding herself of the people she's met and what she remembers about them. This is her own way of ensuring that the world around her is still in order and a safe place. Miguel also uses red face for himself when he finds something just as hard, something that Maria achieves with ease! Miguel does a great job of capturing Maria's endearing smile and you can immediately see what a charming child she is. The illustrations in the book not only make it engaging but are also a great way of recognising emotions for those who may find this tricky. Some readers may not agree with the person first language, while others will find the book more appealing because of this. Ultimately, Maria and Me, is a real gem. A funny yet informative graphic novel about the joys and challenges of a being a parent to an autistic child. And how the pride and what Miguel calls 'gold' that Maria brings into the life of her parents always gives them reasons to rejoice.
This is essentially a father's description of life with his autistic daughter. However, its humorous voice and quirky graphic book style make for a highly unusual end result. Particularly poignant is a page of faces, representing the expressions that Gallardo particularly dislikes seeing other people make when they see Maria. The comic book style of artwork reflects the value of clear simple images and pictograms to those on the autistic spectrum and others with communication difficulties. Gallardo's overriding message? Maria is 'unique - just like everyone else'.