A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll is a story of identity, strength and finding your voice. 11-year-old Addie wants nothing more than to be understood and to be heard. She lives in a world where only a very few people truly understand how she thinks and feels but there are many people who don’t (and don’t really try). When Addie learns about the local witch trials, she realises that she understands how the accused women might have felt – how it feels to be different, misunderstood and without a voice. She uses all of her bravery and fight to try to convince the town to create a memorial for these forgotten women. Along the way, Addie learns about real friendship, being true to herself and standing up for what is right. Life doesn’t come with a set of instructions so Addie must rely on the people she trusts and her own instincts to make her way through the trials she faces.
This is a wonderfully powerful story of individuality, trust and respect. The characters of Addie and her sister, Keedie, give incredible insight into living as an autistic girl in modern day Scotland. Through Addie’s thoughtful first-person narrative and the caring advice of her sister, readers can begin to understand what life is like with such a wide, sensitive mind.
Throughout the story, essential lessons are learned and shared: being nice is more important than being good; people are more alike than they are different; and, just like the ocean needs all kind of fish, the world needs all kinds of mind. These lessons are valuable for any reader but should be used as the foundation for many important classroom discussions and the creation of a community where everyone feels valued and heard.
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