Mooney, Jonathan 1977(?)-
Mooney, Jonathan 1977(?)-
Born c. 1977. Education: Attended Loyola Marymount University; Brown University, A.B. (with honors), 2000.
Writer, activist, and public speaker. Founder of Project Eye-to-Eye, a mentoring and advocacy group for students with learning differences.
(With David Cole) Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
The Short Bus: A Journey beyond Normal (memoir; travelogue), H. Holt (New York, NY), 2007.
Jonathan Mooney experienced learning differences when he was growing up, including dyslexia. As a result, he didn't learn to read until he was twelve. Nevertheless, Mooney eventually grew out of his problem and became an avid reader. He went on to graduate from Brown University, where he founded Project Eye-to-Eye, a mentoring and advocacy nonprofit organization for students with learning differences. The organization's mission has been to develop a national coalition of grassroots mentoring programs for students labeled as learning disabled and to empower these students to recognize and celebrate their differences. To accomplish this goal, the group partners with local communities, public and private schools, universities, and local businesses to bring adults with learning disabilities into the lives of students with learning disabilities as role models, tutors, and mentors. Over the past several years, the organization has grown to twenty chapters in thirteen states.
An activist in learning disorder issues, Mooney wrote his first book, Learning Outside the Lines: Two Ivy League Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD Give You the Tools for Academic Success and Educational Revolution, with David Cole, a friend and fellow Brown student who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The book is a guide for people with learning problems and their families. In the book, the authors detail approaches to learning and succeeding at school and in college. "It comes from the perspective that there is no one way to learn," Mooney told Thom Gillespie in an interview posted on the Indiana University Web site. The author went on to note: "It has no notion of an ideal student and an ideal way to learn and suggest that you have to learn this way by taking notes and reading a book all the way through. We say it is your education and it is your mind and here are a variety of different ways to approach a task."
Mooney is the sole author of The Short Bus: A Journey beyond Normal. The title refers to the euphemism for the learning-challenged children who ride the smaller, shorter buses to special schools. In his book, the author writes about growing up as a rider of a short bus and his difficulties with being looked at as different. He then takes the reader on a journey as he equips one of the infamous short buses for a cross-country trip in which he seeks out others who have had to deal with the stigma of being labeled as "different" due to physical and cognitive deviance from the norm. Among those profiled by Mooney are a self-taught architect who was illiterate as a child, a deaf girl who is malformed but whose adopted mother perceives her only as beautiful, and a transgendered artist who is supported on a nonofficial basis by his community.
Although the author clearly aligns himself on the side of those with disabilities, he also points out the conundrum of dealing with the physically and learning disabled. Writing on Teenreads.com, Barbara Bamberger Scott noted: "The essential paradox that Mooney invites us to ponder in The Short Bus is: How do you honor the disability without dishonoring the person? And what is this strange thing known as ‘normal’ that we're all measured against?"
The Short Bus has received almost unanimous approval from reviewers. "In the tradition of other on-the-road sagas, this is angry, funny, and bittersweet," wrote Elizabeth Safford in the Library Journal. Teenreads.com contributor Scott called the book "both an exoteric and esoteric travelogue," adding later in the review: "Like Mooney, we examine our own preconceptions as we go, meeting ever stranger strangers and learning to see them as potential friends." Other reviewers also had high praise for the book. Writing in the School Library Journal, Sarah Flowers noted that the author "is an engaging writer with a sense of humor about his own failings, and his story is … entertaining and enlightening." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Mooney "offers a heartfelt rebuke to rigid definitions of normality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Mooney, Jonathan, The Short Bus: A Journey beyond Normal, H. Holt (New York, NY), 2007.
Books, June 23, 2007, Carole Goldberg, "Marching to a Different Beat: Learning-Disabled Writer Tackles the Meaning of ‘Normal,’" p. 9.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2007, review of The Short Bus.
Library Journal, May 15, 2007, Elizabeth Safford, review of The Short Bus, p. 103.
School Library Journal, May, 2007, Sarah Flowers, review of The Short Bus, p. 175.
Indiana University Web site, http://www.indiana.edu/~slizzard/lol/ (January 16, 2008), Thom Gillespie, "LOL: Lots of Luck? Laughing Out Loud? Or, Learning Outside the Lines … An Interview about Alternative Learning with Jonathan Mooney."
Jonathon Mooney Home Page, http://jonathanmooney.com (January 16, 2008).
Teenreads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (January 16, 2008), Barbara Bamberger Scott, review of The Short Bus.