I love Lisa Thompson’s heartfelt writing and so I was unbelievably excited to receive an early proof copy of her latest read for which she has partnered once again with the brilliant Barrington Stoke. Taking inspiration from a real encounter with a robot on a school visit, Thompson delivers a wonderful story of friendship, of groundbreaking technology and of learning to appreciate ‘the small things’ in life.
Anna is a bit different to the other girls in her class at school. She does not have the busy life that they do. Whilst her friends are busy attending after-school clubs and learning how to dance, play musical instruments, speak other languages and ride horses, she and her brother often find themselves at the supermarket searching out bargains in the reduced section.
When a new student arrives at Anna’s school, Anna is asked to partner up with her. But new girl Ellie is too unwell to come to school in person and instead ‘Ellie-bot’ is her eyes, ears and voice within the classroom. Anxious Anna is worried that her life isn’t interesting enough to share with Ellie so she tells a little white lie. But one lie rolls into another into another into another and soon a whole web of lies is forming around her. When Ellie discovers the truth will she accept Anna for who she really or will the friendship fall apart…
So much love for this book. Thompson has a wonderful skill of writing about young characters who are dealing with real issues. The story is narrated by Anna and her voice will be easily relatable to readers. She is genuine, honest and really just wants to fit in with her peers. Worrying about not having the exciting life that her peers do is only natural. Luckily for Anna, she has a mum who reminds her that it is important to not judge herself against others and to be happy with who she is. Friendship isn’t about the number of clubs you go to or how much money you have, it is about who you are as a person. And in Ellie she finds a friend who helps her understand how wonderful it is to be kind, honest and to appreciate the small things in life. A ray of sunshine, a bird taking a bath, baking a cake, reading a book - some of the best pleasures in life are free and are worth much more than a fabricated life full of false pleasures. Thompson has packed so many important messages into ninety-four pages.
NoIsolation - you can check out their robots at noisolation.com - are the tech company that create robots like Ellie-bot that allow children unable to attend school in person to experience school-life through their robot counterpart. This is the first time I had heard of such a robot and they sound fantastic for so many reasons; reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness, giving a child a school experience, allowing a child to take an active part in lessons and enabling the child to make friends and engage with peers.
When this book is published, true to Barrington Stoke form, it will be printed in dyslexia friendly font and on tinted paper ensuring the book can be accessed by every child. Hannah Coulson will provide the illustrations and I very much look forward to seeing them.
Huge thanks to the lovely peeps at Barrington Stoke for this important book.
Recommended for 8+.