They’ve brought us an engineer, an architect, a scientist and a future president, now Andrea Beaty and David Roberts introduce an illustrator to their fantastic series of picture books in the form of Aaron Slater.
Aaron Slater loves lots of things; flowers, painting, drawing. But what he love most of all is stories and he dreams of the day when he can write one. Before he can pen his own tales he must learn to read. Despite his best efforts, the words on the page just look like squiggles and soon the flamboyant and creative young boy is retreating into his shell. When his teacher asks the class to write a story, Aaron is beset with worry. How he can he tell a story if he cannot write the words down…
Taking inspiration from Aaron Douglas, an African American artist who was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance - this story is explored in more detail in the the author’s note - Aaron Slater, Illustrator is a heart-warming and uplifting tale of a young boy desperate to tell stories but who struggles with words and has to find another way to express all of the wonderful ideas that fill his head.
Art and creativity shine in a touching and empowering story that directly addresses the challenges of learning to read and write for a dyslexic child. Full of feeling and with emotions pouring off of every page, readers are rewarded with a huge multi-coloured serving of empathy and a warmth of understanding for those who face learning difficulties.
Wrapped up in the wonderful rhymes and the gorgeous artwork are important messages for children around finding your own voice and expressing yourself in your own unique way. Aaron’s experience is sure to inspire all readers and will resonate especially with dyslexic children who will easily identify with his struggles. Like many children, Aaron needs support and that comes in the form of the adults in his life who rather than get children to conform and blend in allow them to flourish in their own ways and encourage them to stand out.
Aaron, a character who is neurodiverse and whose brain operates slightly differently, is a fabulous young boy and I was with him every step of the way as he overcomes his challenges, learns to embrace and accept who he is and discovers that there is definitely more than one way to tell a story. Whilst Aaron may find words difficult to write down he has the most wonderful of imaginations and through his imaginings and fabulous drawings he is able to share his stories, much like illustrator David Roberts. In Roberts’ illustrators note he writes about his own struggles with reading and spelling and how has ‘learned to read and tell stories with pictures.’
Whether children see themselves in Aaron or it serves as a window into the life of someone else, this fabulous story serves as a wonderful celebration of difference and informs that dyslexia doesn’t define a person, rather it is simply part of who they are and when they channel their ‘superpowers’ the results can be incredible. Aaron is capable, can achieve his storytelling goals and is an all-around awesome little human, a brilliant little role-model.
It is also worth noting that the print used is Dyslexie, a typeface that has been designed specially for people with dyslexia. Further information on this can be found at dyslexiefont.com
Recommended for 6+.