Review: A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

Blurb: Addie knows exactly who she is. Addie knows that sharks are more interesting than dolphins, she knows her favourite words in the thesaurus, and she knows that her older sisters are opposites. And when Addie learns about the witch trials that happened in her hometown, she knows there is more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to her. As Addie tries to get her small town to make a memorial for the ‘witches’, can she challenge the way they see her?

Title: A Kind of Spark

Author: Elle McNicoll

Publisher: Knights Of

Genre: Fiction, Children’s, Middle Grade, Contemporary

Review:

Addie is a little different from the other kids at her school – and she knows this. She processes things a in a different way and for that, is seen as odd, especially by her school teacher. But when they start a class project on the witch trials, Addies sees herself in the women she learns about and is determined to bring them some justice.

This book was such a joy to read! It was a contemporary, otherwise a very normal and sweet story, but it had such an impact. We get to see Addie discover her self confidence, figuring out who she is and that just because she’s a little different, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. I particularly loved the part when Addie realises that she doesn’t need to pretend to like dolphins instead of sharks to make friends – and that the right people will love you for exactly who you are. This uplifting message was so lovely and is one that I will always champion in children’s books. The story is well written, moving at a good pace but also letting us get to know the characters. While it’s not full of adventure like some other books targeted at this age range, there’s something beautiful in a positive ending to an otherwise everyday story. Also, it’s not a super long read and is written in a particularly readable way so if you’re after a nice, chilled read that still has some meaning then this would be perfect.

Another thing I loved about this book, and I feel is important to note, is that this book is own voices! Elle McNicoll is also neurodivergent, just like the main character Addie (and her sister), which lends a brilliant sense of authenticity to this book. I also loved that one of Addie’s older sisters is neurodivergent as well, giving us two perspectives on what it’s like. I don’t really know anyone on a personal level who’s neurodivergent and this book really gave me food for thought. This kind of representation, especially in children’s books, is so important and I’ve really enjoyed having this book to recommend (along with Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott) has been fabulous.

As for what I disliked, there wasn’t much to note! The only thing that got to me was some of the things that Addie’s teacher said to her. I want to believe that no teacher, or adult in a position of authority, would behave like that but just because it’s never happened to me, doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to others.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone – target audience or not – to give them a new perspective on the world that they may not have had before. Also, it’s been a brilliant book to be able to recommend to readers who identify with Addie and her experiences!

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommend?: Yes


Have you read this book? Or maybe you’ve read something similar? What did you think? I’d love to know!

You can always find me over on Twitter if you’d like to discuss this book (or any others that I’ve featured) in more detail 😌

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