Publication Date: 4 June 2020
A Kind Of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard?
Cover illustration by Kay Wilson
A highly accomplished debut that is hugely entertaining and challenging in equal measure, and a testament to the vulnerability, strength, and courage neurodivergent children show everyday. Now, I know I’m a bit of a crier when it comes to books, but this had the waterworks going on and off throughout for a range of emotions, and left me with goosebumps at the end.
Addie is autistic and is finding her class dynamics difficult to navigate after a friendship change, a new arrival and a different teacher. Thank goodness she has big sister Keedie to help her out. Autistic too, Keedie is the perfect person to listen and offer advice – she understands in a way others simply can’t. She is the hero we all need when we struggle to speak up for ourselves. The relationships within the family are brilliantly written, and we get a clear understanding of the different character’s motivations throughout.
Addie’s fixation on her new school history topic, the study of witches tried and executed in Old Edinburgh, becomes more than just a source of intense interest. It becomes a campaign to fight for justice for the memories of women who were killed for being different. The recognition that she would have been persecuted too is painful, yet empowering both for Addie and the reader.
Unfortunately, Miss Murphy and Emily both seems to revel in causing Addie distress. To know that this level of bullying goes on is heartbreaking. To see it compared to witch trials is not only insightful but exceptionally powerful. Thankfully, she has Mr Allison, Keedie and a new friend waiting in the wings to support her.
I have to mention the local Councillor – a brilliant portrayal of a self-serving, ego-driven politician, I can’t begin to imagine where the inspiration may have come from…
My favourite read of the year so far, A Kind Of Spark deserves a place in every single school to be read widely by children and adults alike. There’s a reason it is Blackwells Children’s Book Of The Month and was The Times Children’s Book Of The Week and Sunday Times Children’s Book Of The Week at the weekend! If you only read one book published for children this year, make it this one.
This isn’t a book about being autistic, it’s a book about difference and discrimination that has autistic characters. It’s authentic, honest and just blooming brilliant. Many children will be able to recognise themselves in Addie which is so important – every child deserves to see themselves reflected in books. And while enjoying a brilliantly told story, neurotypicals might learn an awful lot too, and gain some understanding of how the world looks and feels when viewed through a different lens.
Great for fans of:
- Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westecot
- The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompason
- Somerset Tsunami by Emma Carroll
A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is out now, published by Knights Of, priced £6.99 in paperback original. Order now from https://www.roundtablebooks.co.uk/
About The Author
“I am a neurodivergent writer. And an avid reader. I can count on one hand the number of times I have been recommended a book about someone like me, that has been written by an author like me. So I wrote my own.”
Elle McNicoll is a children’s author from Scotland, now living in East
London. As a neurodivergent writer, she is passionate about disability
rights and representation. She was inspired to finish A Kind of Spark
after her Masters research revealed that only 0.05% of protagonists in
children’s books are neurodivergent. When she isn’t writing fiction, Elle
assists as a mentor for neurodivergent students at UCL, works as an editor
and in her spare time, makes colourful chokers for friends to wear.
A Kind of Spark is her first novel.
About The Publisher
Knights Of are creating quality content for kids – with as many perspectives as they can squeeze into the making-of each book.
Publishing hasn’t got a great track record with diversity – on the shelf or behind the scenes. ‘Diverse’ books are often shelved as ‘niche’ while less than 4% of the publishing workforce in the UK is non-white. Knights Of is creating a better pipeline: working with writers, illustrators, agents, retailers and other publishers to make books better.
If you want to help publishers like Knights Of survive Covid-19 so that every child can see themselves reflected in the books they read, and see writing and publishing as a future career route, please consider donating to the #InclusiveIndies campaign at InclusiveIndies.co.uk
Huge thanks to Ed Public Relations and Knights Of for sending me a proof copy, and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops for this breathtaking book.