by Jane Evans (Author), Ruth Mutch (Illustrator)
Publisher: Your Stories Matter (30 Jan. 2017)
This is another book in the ‘Your Stories Matter’ collection. ‘Your stories matter’ are independent educational book publishers that are primarily about social rather than financial profit. They have done an excellent job of collecting inspiring stories from around the world, aiming to publish books for schools, families and individuals with specific learning difficulties. They also produce free teaching resources that can be used with the books. They welcome people joining them as a user, a contributor and a champion. www.yourstoriesmatter.org
The books clearly celebrate difference and they do not shy away from some of the potential difficulties of having neurological difference, but also ensuring that we see the strengths as well as the difficulties that individuals experience.
The book is printed in the Dyslexia font which makes it easy to read and there are also helpful illustrations to supplement the words. The story is written by Vera, later on in her life, talking about her childhood and the relationships she has with two other young people in her school who also experience neurological difference.
Vera hates school, to the point where she can be physically sick. Prior to going to school, she loved learning, but finds school both exhausting and terrifying. It also makes her feel stupid, slow and messy and she clearly experiences sensory overload. She is also prone to daydreaming. Vera’s friends Max and Harry also find school a very difficult experience. Vera’s strengths are clearly outlined, including her incredible imagination and she writes a story about three Penguins, which provides a metaphor for difference in a way that many children and young people will be able to relate to. Thus, although the Penguins are popular with humans, they are ridiculed and bullied by other birds, who do not like them because of their difference. In particular the fact that they can’t fly. They are described by the other birds as stupid. Vera talks about the three Penguins as being like herself, Harry and Max, who she describes as needing help with reading, writing and getting on with other people. They are all extraordinary in their own ways, like Penguins, who are brilliant swimmers. There is an interesting twist in the story, when Bethany, a very popular talented girl, who has been bullying Vera, is revealed as being very unhappy and she acknowledges that she needs help too. Both Vera and Bethany come to a realisation that they maybe have more in common than they realised.
“it is not about winning , but it is trying” .
Consultant Clinical Psychologist
& Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
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