NEW HOPE, Minn. -- On World Autism Awareness Day, a local teenager has quite a story to share. He is now an author and the star of his own story.
Armond Isaak, 14, of New Hope, will soon release a book he co-authored with famed Minnesota children's book author and illustrator, Nancy Carlson.
"Armond Goes to a Party" is a book about Asperger's Syndrome and friendship. Isaak was diagnosed with Asperger's in third grade and wanted other kids on the autism spectrum to know they aren't alone.
"If you have Asperger's Syndrome, you are really good in your brain and your brain is wired a different way so you are really good drawing and school but your social level isn't as high," said Isaak.
Four years ago, Heidi Isaak encouraged her son to write about the social struggles he encountered in elementary school, from experiences on the playground to parties.
"Sometimes I feel like everyone is a branch on the same tree and I am the lonely stick in the yard," he reads from his new book.
"When I read that the first time, it was heartbreaking because he didn't feel a part of things, but it's true," said his mom, Heidi Isaak. "It's what they feel."
With that in mind, Armond Isaak wrote about a time he felt overwhelmed at a party and when he reached out to his favorite author, Nancy Carlson. Isaak and his two sisters had been devoted Carlson fans since they were young and even took a course from her at the Loft Literary Center.
"She's such a great person, she is so nice," said Isaak.
Carlson adapted a section of Isaak's writing and brought the chapter alive with colorful images and tender words. In the pages, the main character Armond learns to overcome a time he felt invisible.
"Armond said, I need a break," he read. "They knew just what to do. They brought him into a quiet room where he could read and think about dinosaurs."
Isaak thinks it's a message that can help kids of all abilities.
"So people who know somebody with Asperger's can know how to deal and make friends if they feel alone, and if somebody with Asperger's can reach out and try to make new friends," he said.
Already, it looks like Isaak's happy ending is just the beginning.
"A lot of people will know me, I won't be the random kid in the hallway, I'll be the author in the hallway," he said, with a smile.
Armond Goes to a Party releases on Tuesday, April 15, and will be available where books are sold. The book is also available for pre-order at the publisher, FreeSpirit.com, or Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul will sell the book before its official publication date, and readers can call ahead. They can also attend a book launch party at Red Balloon Bookshop on Tuesday, April 15 from 6:30-8:00pm at 891 Grand Avenue in St. Paul, and have the opportunity to meet both Isaak and Nancy Carlson.
Carlson has written and illustrated more than 60 books.