by Elle McNicoll;
An Adventure Book Review by Erin the Cat Princess©
Hello, and welcome to my Saturday Book Review featuring Adventures in Middle-Grade Fiction!
We are delighted to bring you the first of four books that feature neurodiverse (ND) characters and or have been written by ND authors. Understanding who you are and diversity are subjects close to our hearts. Thankfully they are getting far more attention in children’s literature and awareness is being raised. As important is the fact they bring characters to those who have previously not seen themselves in literature.
We could say so much about neurodiversity as a preface to these book reviews. But on thinking about it, we won’t. Rather, we will let the stories that the authors have so ably crafted tell their tales and provide the insight.
So, without further ado, I bring you our first book – A Kind of Spark. This was written by Elle McNicoll and was her debut work. Her second book, Show Us Who You Are, will be reviewed next week. Like a Charm, her third book is out in February of this year.
A KIND OF SPARK, by ELLE McNICOLL
Published by: KNIGHTS OF.
Cover artwork by the very talented Kay Wilson
Paperback ISBN: 978 – 1 – 9133110 – 5 – 6
Cover price for Paperback £6.99 (or cheaper)
Age range: 8 and upwards
Addie, her parents and twin elder sisters Keedie and Nina live in the village of Juniper, not far from Edinburgh, Scotland.
Addie, aged 11, is autistic, as is Keedie, who is struggling at university.
Sharks are Addie’s passion, and she reads as much as she can on the subject. She is also passionate about finding new words from her thesaurus, a gift from Keedie.
When the new term begins, the class start to learn about the Scottish witch trials. For Addie, the injustices and atrocities committed on local innocent women strike deep. The similarities between them and the persecution by her own teacher and bullying by a classmate for being ‘different’ are not lost on Addie, and she feels impassioned to do something.
A memorial commemorating the fifty or so local women dragged off from their village seems just right. But, the local council think the whole witch trial business is a matter to be swept away under a carpet and forgotten.
And so begins Addie’s journey and battle.
But will she win? The council is against her, and some residents have vested interests elsewhere. And the very teacher that haunted Keedie’s time at school, made it hell, and caused meltdowns through its unrelenting unkindness towards her autism, is now Addie’s too!
And that’s where we must leave this review. Clearly, there is far more to discover. But the best stories need to be allowed to tell themselves as the absolute pleasure is in the detail and the journey.
So, what did we think?
It was not until Mrs H, and I picked up a copy of the fabulous ‘The London Eye Mystery’, a book that we will be reviewing for you soon, that we started to understand about being autistic. After that, we were only too pleased to discover A Kind of Spark had just been released. The more we read, the more we liked and loved the characters and the insight we got. This is, without doubt, a gem.
We see the world through Addie’s eyes. And in words written by an ND writer and wrought from experience. Together they tackle some complicated issues on her journey and fight. The story doesn’t pull its punches either, and there is a lot to take away about how people react to differences and what it is like to be different.
This story has been lauded by the literary world. But more importantly, far greater praise has come from parents, teachers and kids alike. It is an excellent example of a new voice, telling a story that needed to be told, for those that needed to hear it, neurodivergent or not.
At 187 pages, this is an easy and quick read for those that want to or can. Me, I am a slow reader and enjoyed a long, pleasurable weekend in Addie’s company.
So . . . .
I would be surprised if many kids haven’t read this by now, as it really is very, very popular. But if you know someone who hasn’t, or if this review has whetted your appetite to read and discover more about autism and being ND, then I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Want to buy a copy?
To get a copy, please do consider your local independent bookshop first. I cannot stress enough how vital both they and independent publishers like Nights Of publishing are to the whole ecosystem of really cool books. Books like this that have brought undoubted pleasure and helped and informed tens of thousands would not have existed without them.
If any authors, publishers or agents wish us to review their books, please do get in touch. Details are listed on our book review page.