Book review: Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club

  • Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club by Jane Evans (illustrated by Ruth Mutch)
  • Publisher:  Your Stories Matter
  • Published:  January 2017
  • Genre:  Children’s fiction (ages 7-9)
  • Pages:  184

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Vera McLuckie hates school. Mainly because she struggles with stuff the other kids find easy. Oh, and because she keeps getting into trouble for doing what she is really good at. Daydreaming.

So when Vera gets the chance to show just how extraordinary she is, will she dare take on the coolest, smartest girl in the whole of Acorn Bank Primary?

But it goes deeper. Whilst not named in the book explicitly, the three main characters exhibit dyspraxic, dyslexic and autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome) tendencies respectively. So the story can be used by parents and teachers as a catalyst for discussing what it is like to have a specific learning difficulty. In schools, teachers can use the book on a one-to-one, group or class basis to help raise awareness and improve well-being.

Book Background

Both author and illustrator are keen to raise awareness of specific learning difficulties in a way accessible to children. The illustrator is herself autistic.

Buy the book:  Amazon

Meet the author:

Jane Evans lives in Edinburgh, UK with her husband, daughter, cat and six fish. Although she has had many different jobs over the years, she keeps coming back to her first love, writing. ‘Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club’ is her first book, written with kids in mind who sometimes find things a bit tricky.

Ruth Mutch is a young artist, living in Glasgow with her rather lazy cat Phoebe. She is autistic and has a post graduate qualification in autism as well as a Primary Educational Studies degree and an HND in interactive media. She has a lot of experience of autistic children. Mutch has done various illustrations for autism awareness including an e-learning course but this is her first venture into illustrating a children’s fiction book which she is very excited about!

Connect with the author:   Goodreads   Twitter   Facebook

REVIEW:

I could soooo relate to this book.  I myself have a learning disability and remember staying after class with a teacher yelling at me because I couldn’t understand the basic concepts of letters and numbers.  I suspect I passed math in high school just so that my math teacher didn’t have to see me anymore.  Add to that the fact that I have difficulty seeing letters / objects in boxes, well – you get the picture.

In Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club we are introduced to three lovable characters who, despite their learning difficulties, become the best of friends. They help each other with their homework at Vera’s grandmother’s bookstore.

Vera is a daydreamer and a very creative one at that.  Which means that she often isn’t able to remember or complete her school work in class.  She also doesn’t like loud noises.

Max has a hard time understanding the way that other people talked and what they really meant when they said things.  He doesn’t like to be touched and notices everything!  The cool thing is, he really rocks at math!

Harry finds writing and spelling hard and she hates to read because the words just dance around on the page.  Vera and Harry help Max write about his feelings.

What I really admired about this book is that it is written in the Dyslexie font, which is a typeface for people with dyslexia.  The illustrations were drawn by Ruth Mutch, who is herself autistic.   There is also an mission in the back of the book to unlock a code word.  Is that cool or what?

A friendly and encouraging book for all those children who think they don’t fit in because they are different.

ABOUT YOUR STORIES MATTER:

About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books

Book review: The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle

  • The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle
  • Publisher:  Your Stories Matter
  • Genre:  children (ages 6-8 years)
  • Published: January 31, 2017
  • Author:   Beth Montgomery
  • Pages:  36 (softcover)

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Azzie doesn’t really like school. If she could spend every day drawing, painting and making stuff, things would be great. But she can’t. The teachers make her do other stuff. This nearly always means she has to read from the board, a worksheet or a text book. The trouble is, she really really struggles to read letters, words and numbers. This makes her feel stupid. But she knows she isn’t. If only she could tell someone …

This book has been written from the point of view of a child who feels misunderstood. She finds it very difficult to read, which makes school life a struggle. She feels stupid, even though she is clever and creative. She gets told off for messing around, when the truth is she can’t do what is asked of her because she has a specific learning difficulty.

This illustrated book helps parents, teachers, and other adults who support children, have a non-threatening discussion about dyslexia with children of primary school age. Children find it easier to relate to, and discuss, the character in the story rather than have all the attention focused on them.

Using the book as a catalyst for discussion, adults can use the illustrated story at home or in school with children who have dyslexia, or exhibit dyslexic tendencies. Teachers can use the book to help classmates better understand their peers who may struggle reading. Similarly, parents can use the book to help children better understand family members.

This book was written and illustrated by someone who is herself dyslexic, and is based on her own life. She wanted to do something to help children who, years later, are still facing the same lack of understanding in school.

Buy the book:  Amazon   

MEET THE AUTHOR:  Elizabeth Montgomery lives in Nottinghamshire, England. She studied a BA in Design at Leicester’s De Montfort University, going on to complete an MA in writing at Nottingham University. Montgomery pursued various careers, including teaching, working for the Prince’s Trust and designing bespoke shoes for celebrities, before finally becoming a registered nurse. She wrote the Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle to help children and adults accept the unique abilities of being dyslexic, instead of being made to feel bad and stupid.

Website  

Book Objectives

This book has been written from the point of view of a child who feels misunderstood. She finds it very difficult to read, which makes school life a struggle. She feels stupid, even though she is clever and creative. She gets told off for messing around, when the truth is she can’t do what is asked of her because she has a specific learning difficulty.

This illustrated book helps parents, teachers, and other adults who support children, have a non-threatening discussion about dyslexia with children of primary school age. Children find it easier to relate to, and discuss, the character in the story rather than have all the attention focused on them.

Using the book as a catalyst for discussion, adults can use the illustrated story at home or in school with children who have dyslexia, or exhibit dyslexic tendencies. Teachers can use the book to help classmates better understand their peers who may struggle reading. Similarly, parents can use the book to help children better understand family members.

Book Background

This book was written and illustrated by someone who is herself dyslexic, and is based on her own life. She wanted to do something to help children who, years later, are still facing the same lack of understanding in school.

As with all of its books, the publisher – Your Stories Matter – aims to help people know they are not alone with what makes them different. If a young person or adult can relate to a story, it gives them hope and encourages them to share their concerns. The publisher aims to provide free teaching resources for all of its books that can be used in schools, to help improve understanding and celebrate differences.

REVIEW:

What a delightful book!  The Back to Front World of Azzie Artbuckle is about a little girl who is smart, creative and who tries very hard to read.  But she can’t read.  No matter how hard she tries, she can’t remember how to pronounce a word she has already read on the same page.  She says:  “I can see the letters just fine, but I see them differently to everyone else”.

Azzie has Dyslexia.  But it’s ok.  With a little extra help she can learn to read at her own pace.

Beth Montgomery provides an informative introduction about neurodiverse children and their neurological conditions.  These children are often misunderstood, which exacerbates the stress they already feel when they cannot learn as quickly as other children.  The author explains that there are many “positives” to being “wired differently” and that we should champion and celebrate these differences with the children in our care.

I have a degree in speech therapy and work one-on-one with children four days a week.  This book has helped me to identify those children who are experiencing the same struggle and frustration as Azzie.  This book would be an excellent addition to any pre-school library or paediatrician’s office.

ABOUT YOUR STORIES MATTER:

About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books