He skips every second step when he takes the stairs, taps door handles twice and positions objects in pairs. The problem has become so bad that Felix is on the verge of being expelled from school because the principal has had enough of trying to run the school around his very specific rules. Then Charlie Pye arrives and turns his world upside down. She’s grown up with very few rules. She eats cereal for lunch, calls a boat home, and has a very loose interpretation of school uniform. The question is, can Felix ever learn to be wrong when he is so obsessed with being right?
Felix’s life is run by the number two. Whatever he does, must be a multiple of two, whether it’s climbing steps, counting, saying hello or organising his belongings. It’s so important to him he’s even changed the maths textbooks at school so that they no longer contain odd numbers. Odd numbers could make bad things happen…
His need to stick rigidly to his rules has now landed him in big trouble at school. He’s one more bad day from being expelled, unless he can find a way to make his rules work within the school rules. When new girl, Charlie Pye, starts in his class, who definitely doesn’t follow the rules, and he’s sent to see Mr Fielding, the school counsellor, everything Felix believes is challenged.
Giving a fascinating insight into the life of a child, and his family, living with OCD, Double Felix is a hopeful story, encouraging empathy and understanding. The engaging storyline, told from Felix’s point of view helps us to understand why his rules are so important to him, and how it affects him.
I loved the friendship that blossoms between Felix and Charlie as the story progresses, and how it challenges Felix to look at the world through the eyes of other children who don’t need his rules. His sessions with Hugo (Mr Fielding) show that OCD can be managed – there is no easy fix – through a determination to beat it and perseverance to keep trying when the fight feels too hard. The analogy of Brian The Bully is a great way to help readers understand exactly what Felix is fighting back against too.
Maria Serrano’s illustrations add warmth and humour to the story, and I especially loved her “Rool Boy” comic strip.
If you would like to know more about the issues raised in Double Felix, or need some support, check out ocduk.org, youngminds.org.uk, and anxietycare.org.uk.
About the author
Sally Harris grew up in rural Australia and after graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Children’s Literature, Sally has been busy writing and working as a primary teacher, in both Australia and the UK. Her first book, Diary of a Penguin-Napper, sold over 10 000 copies and her second book, Ruby Marvelous, has inspired children all over the world to try their hand at cooking exploding finger buns! Sally loves animals, including penguins, and, as she can’t have one of those as a pet, she has found that a dog is definitely the next best thing.
About the illustrator
Maria Serrano was born in Murcia, Spain where she still lives and works. After completing her BA in Arts at Complutense University in Madrid, she went on to illustrate children’s book for several Spanish publishers, all of which are still available to buy at bookshops in Spain. In the UK she has worked with Oxford University Press, Pearson Education & Templar books amongst others.
Huge thanks to Faye and Wacky Bee Books for sending me a copy, and inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.