November Junior Fiction Book of the Month

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

I was delighted that hear that one of the books I have recently read, A Kind of Spark, has made it onto the longlist for the CILIP Carnegie Medal Book Award 2021 .  I would happily recommend any of the books on the list to you.

Evidence shows that reading stories builds real life empathy and this story is a perfect #readforempathy book.

In school, Addie learns about Witch Trials that took place in her home town of Juniper, outside Edinburgh.  She learns that, like herself, some women were misunderstood for being different but these women were vilified and ultimately killed.  You see, Addie is autistic and everyday things that neurotypical people take for granted, can often be a struggle for her.  She recognises the parallels between the persecuted women’s lives and her own experiences at school, where she has to deal with a bully who turns her best friend against her and a teacher who refuses to recognise that Addie’s approach to learning is equally valid.  She feels an affinity with the “witches” and seeks to right the wrongs of the past by campaigning for a village memorial to commemorate the women.

This book allows us to view the world through Addie’s eyes.  I was particularly moved by the scene where Addie apologised for her reaction to a particularly nasty incident of bullying.  She questioned whether she had misread the situation.  Similarly, I found very affecting, the idea that Addie’s sister, also autistic, physically exhausted herself by hiding her true self in an attempt to fit in at University.

This might sound like a book heavy with issues but truly, it’s an incredibly readable book, heartfelt and well written with a main character you will be rooting for.

This is an ideal book for Year 7 but I think readers of any age will benefit from reading it.