|Imprint||Bloomsbury Children’s Books|
This is a super story which I’ve now shared with several classes between Year 1 and 3, and all the kiddos have really enjoyed it, even though it deals with some tough issues. What is even more amazing is that it is written by an eleven year old.
Rico Hinson-King was taken into care at a very young age, along with his two sisters, when his natural parents were unable to care for them. The siblings weren’t all fostered together and at times, Rico found life very tough, even though he was being looked after. Like many boys he was mad about football but his big dream was to have a proper ‘forever’ family. Despite the times he wanted to scream and cry (and the times he did) he was always resilient and always loved his footy, and when finally he found a set of remarkable parents who not only wanted to be his forever family, but to also parent his sisters, Rico was able to relax into being loved and embraced.
He wrote his story firstly in homework club at Manchester City FC (where he is a Junior Premier League Academy student) , but quickly it became more than just a homework assignment. Rico could see this was a way to share with other kids in similar circumstances, to let them know there is hope for all, and that there are people who understand exactly what it feels like to be in foster care or in ‘limbo’ without the security of a forever family. For such a young writer, it is a remarkable achievement, and is both moving and powerful.
The children with whom I shared it, invariably had much to say and demonstrated great empathy which was wonderful to see. Nick Sharrat’s illustrative style will be familiar to many from his work on the Tracy Beaker stories and other Jacqueline Wilson books, and is exactly right for this, being quirky but en pointe for the emotions and changing situations. While it is told in a narrative style, it is non-fiction and I think the rich discussions to come out of this will be of great value to your readers.
Naturally, you would need to be mindful of any potential triggers should you have children who might be in similar situations or have had similar experiences. I just love that the book was published the week before National Adoption Week (UK) to highlight the need for more children like Rico and his sisters to find their place in a loving family.
Highly recommended for young readers from around 5 years upwards. Watch Rico read his story after winning the Junior Premier League Young Writer of the Year Award. What a remarkable boy!