Can You See Me?

by Libby Scott, Rebecca Westcott

Scholastic Press
March 2020

Ages 8 – 12 . Grades 3 – 7

"This glimpse into the world of a young autistic girl is astonishingly insightful and honest. Tally's struggles to 'fit in' are heart-wrenching, and her victories are glorious." -- Ann M. Martin, Newbery Honor and New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign

Things Tally is dreading about sixth grade:

-- Being in classes without her best friends
-- New (scratchy) uniforms
-- Hiding her autism

Tally isn't ashamed of being autistic -- even if it complicates life sometimes, it's part of who she is. But this is her first year at Kingswood Academy, and her best friend, Layla, is the only one who knows. And while a lot of other people are uncomfortable around Tally, Layla has never been one of them . . . until now.

Something is different about sixth grade, and Tally now feels like she has to act "normal." But as Tally hides her true self, she starts to wonder what "normal" means after all and whether fitting in is really what matters most.

Inspired by young coauthor Libby Scott's own experiences with autism, this is an honest and moving middle-school story of friends, family, and finding one's place.
Libby Scott

Libby Scott is a young autistic writer who lives in the UK with her family. Since her "Life of a Perfectionist" essay went viral online, she has become an autism advocate, speaking about her own experience at conferences and in interviews. Can You See Me? is her first novel. You can find Libby on Twitter at @BlogLibby.
Rebecca Westcott

Rebecca Westcott has been a teacher for many years and currently teaches part-time in an elementary school where she is the special educational needs coordinator. Can You See Me? is her US debut. She lives in Dorset, England, with her husband and three children. Find Rebecca on Twitter at @WestcottWriter.


--- - Tally lowers her face into her knees and waits until she hears the kitchen door closing. Then, as quietly as she can, she tiptoes upstairs and into her bedroom. The tiger mask is hanging from the end of her bed and she pulls it on, inhaling the familiar smell.

And then she walks across the room and looks in the mirror, staring at the strong, powerful creature in front of her. At the brave, magnificent Tiger Girl who doesn't feel pain and doesn't get hurt and doesn't worry about what other people think of her. If only she could be this girl all of the time then nobody would ever say unkind things or give each other the look that everybody always gives when she's around. The look that means she's done something wrong again, even if she doesn't know what it is or how not to do it next time.

She stares and stares at her reflection until the Tiger Girl goes blurry and then she walks downstairs and along the hallway until she reaches the door to the laundry room. Rupert is lying down behind the stair-gate. He looks different, and the muzzle that is fitted snugly over his face wasn't there this morning.

"Don't be scared," Tally whispers. "Can you see me?"

She used to ask this question all the time when she was younger. Every time she put on the mask. And she was never quite sure what she wanted the answer to be. Whether it was better to be hidden or to be seen. Whether it was better to be Tiger Girl or Tally.

Rupert peers at her from above the muzzle and then slowly lumbers into a standing position, keeping his distance from the tiger that is filling the doorway. They stare at each other for a while, both hidden behind their masks.