Thimble And The Girl From Mars by Jon Blake

Publication Date: 3 November 2021

The Book

Once again Thimble causes chaos in Dawson Castle, the bungalow home of failed children’s author Douglas Dawson and his disabled son Jams. This time, however, there is a new character on the scene: Bunches Rattigan, a feisty, football-playing, internet-savvy girl from Mars (or so Jams sees her). When Bunches sets her sights on Thimble, and Jams makes an ill-advised bet with her, the scene is set for a struggle for Thimble’s affections which leads to both hilarious and downright dangerous adventures. 

The Review

Laugh out loud funny, anarchy and mayhem rule as Jams and Bunches world’s collide. Crazy competitions and hilarious hi-jinks ensue as the pair fight for Thimble’s affections in Thimble’s fourth outing.

Bunches is a great character, with a hard outer shell hiding a little girl who just wants to be liked. I loved watching Jams and Bunches come to understand each other as each new outing showed more of themselves to each other.

What is really great about this book is it has two characters that we rarely see represented in children’s books, Jams with his disability, and Bunches, a looked after child. Not only do we see empathy grow between them, but this book is a great window for others to understand the challenges they and children like them face on a daily basis.

Great for fans of:

  • Planet Omar by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik
  • Dougal Daley by Jackie Marchant and Loretta Schauer
  • Cyborg Cat by Ade Adepitan and Carl Pearce

The Guest Post by Jon Blake

As I’m never shy to admit, I’ve always been an egalitarian, and from the outset of my writing career I have featured outsiders and underdogs in my stories. However it was only when my son Jordi was diagnosed with cerebral palsy that I began to conceive characters with the same condition. In fact, Jordi first began to understand his disability from reading “Oshie”, published by Walker in 2011. The fact my son turned out to be an avid reader with a great sense of humour was a great motivation for me, and it was only natural to base Jams, the narrator of Thimble Monkey Superstar on him. And just as Jordi’s unique ways of moving are normal to me, so I wanted to make the character of Jams normal to the reader, rather than making the whole story about his disability.

Overcoming the perception of disabled people as ‘other’ is vital to overcoming prejudice and accepting the disabled into the mainstream of society. The roots of the negative perceptions of disability go deep. The association of physical perfection with virtue, and physical difference with threat, is hard-wired into our culture. This has to change. Approximately 30,000 children in the UK have cerebral palsy (that’s roughly the population of Pontypridd. Motherwell or Warwick). It’s the most common cause of childhood disability. But Jams does not represent everyone with cerebral palsy. It is a condition which manifests itself differently in each individual and ranges from mild to severe in its effects. Jams is somewhere in the middle of the scale: he uses a wheelchair sometimes, walks with the aid of a walker or crutches, and has no problems with speech. But like all disabled people, he needs to be treated with consideration, not with pity or as if he isn’t there.

Reviewers have been glowing on their praise of the Thimble books, children do find them funny, but, let’s be honest, how many nine year olds are attracted to a book with a disabled character on the cover? They have to be won to it. And how many bookshops ensure they have books which reflect the lives of disabled children? How many schools prioritise teaching about disability? Perhaps this reflects the fact that we have a government which pays lip service to the needs of the disabled while consistently penalising them in numerous ways: the cutting of benefits, the removal of training and employment opportunities and the inadequate provision of therapy in the NHS. The Thimble books cannot change all this, but they do provide an ideal way to introduce the subject into schools, libraries and homes. I am proud of many of things I have achieved as a writer, but nothing is more important to me than this.

Huge thanks to Jon for such an insightful guest post and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Thimble And The Girl From Mars. Do make sure you check out all of the other stops.