A YA novel told from the perspective of someone with Down’s syndrome. A love story inspired by the author’s experiences alongside her severely autistic brother.
Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week, July 8 2018
“This exceptional young adult/crossover debut is the compelling, sharply observed story of a family in crisis told, in an understated narrative reminiscent of Mark Haddon or Harper Lee, by 13 year old Lou, who is on the autism spectrum.” Nicolette Jones
from The Bookseller:
Michael Morpurgo has penned a new novel inspired by his autistic grandson.
Flamingo Boy is set in the Camargue in the South of France during the Second World War and features a boy who “sees the world differently”.
“There are lots of things he doesn’t – but he does know how to heal animals, how to talk to them; the flamingos especially,” said publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books. The plot follows the boy as he meets a Roma girl called Kezia, who helps her parents run their carousel and who shows him how to ride the wooden horse as the music plays. But then the German soldiers comes and “everything is threatened”.
Morpurgo, who was recently knighted for services to literature in the New Year honours list, described Flamingo Boy as a “story of love and friendship, of how people from different culture and backgrounds can come together, especially when they are under threat.”
He explained he had not thought of writing a book about autism until his grandson was born.
“I have a grandson who is autistic. I had never realised until he became part of our family what this really meant, or what it was,” he said. “I had not thought of writing a book about him, partly because the subject had been so well written about before and partly because my understanding of autism was too shallow. I simply didn’t have the confidence to get started on a story.”
He added: “But then a visit to the Camargue in the South of France, a wild and wonderful national park where pink flamingos fly, gave me the story of an autistic boy growing up in a farmhouse amongst these creatures. I decided to set the story during the Second World War when France was an occupied country. Where children and people who were different were under threat whether they were gypsies or Jews or people who did not seem to be like other people, autistic children amongst them.”
The book will be published on 8th March 2018 in hardback, e-book and audiobook after executive publisher Ann-Janine Murtagh signed a deal for world rights through Veronique Baxter at David Higham.
A lot of people only see the bad sides of Asperger’s. What they don’t see is that it can have its perks, too. My entire career as an author – which is a very fun one! – is entirely dependent on this condition.
Yes, there are certain things that I am unable to do – say, eating without making a mess, or making eye contact with perfectly nice people. And there are times when the crushing intensity of mental looping, OCD and other mental episodes makes me barely able to function.
But as far as spewing forth words, pictures and origami about Star Wars and middle school disasters goes… that, I can do. In fact, it’s hard to stop.
Jessica Kingsley is an independent publisher known for its strength in publishing books about mental health and autism. The author of this title was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in adulthood and is the mother of three children with Aspergers.
Her book explains in very practical detail how to structure play that engages Asperkids in a way that will reinforce ASD strengths whilst also addressing ASD weaknesses.
It’s a substantial very well-produced hardback, plentifully illustrated with colour photos.
Recommended both for parents and educational settings.
A Different Kettle of Fish – A Day In The Life Of A Physics Student With Autism is a thin, humorous hardback written and illustrated by Michael Barton, a final year student (at the time of writing) at the University of Surrey. It’s Raining Cats and Dogs (a book about idioms), also published by JKP, is another of his titles. His illustrations of everyday catchphrases and the illogicality of ambiguous expressions are a key feature of this new title.
And two titles very much aimed at professionals:
Starving The Anxiety Gremlin and Starving The Anger Gremlin, both for Children Aged 5-9 and both by Kate Collins-Donnelly.
The two books are packed full of stories, puzzles and activities for teachers and support workers to use with children.
The books are designed to be given to individual children to work through and complete, under guidance, but I suspect, in educational establishments at least, they will be used as handbooks with occasional pages photocopied for individual use.