Disabled children can often go through their early years never seeing or experiencing anyone else with the same impairment. They can feel that they are the only person in the world like themselves, and it can be an incredibly isolating experience for a child.
A few years ago, Scope launched the In the Picture campaign, which aimed to raise awareness of this issue, and to get children’s illustrators and authors to start including disabled characters in their books.
Quentin Blake was one such illustrator who got involved in the project, and he created three illustrations for the In the Picture exhibition, which has toured around many locations in the UK in recent years.
Blake has also just released his own children’s book, The Five of Us, which he wrote and illustrated.
It instantly looks and feels familiar, the front cover greeting us with the muted colours and scrawling style of characters that we all know and love from Roald Dahl books.
The story is short and simple: five friends go on a day trip to the countryside. They are all unique in their own way, and each has a special talent. Ollie can hear noises from really far away, Simona is really strong – but the point is that these skills are celebrations of what each child can do really well.
The combination of abilities in each of the friends means they can all support each other to get the best out of their adventure, and to see and experience things from new perspectives. It also helps them come together and work as an amazing team when disaster strikes.
No mention is given to the fact that the friends have a mixture of visible, and perhaps some invisible impairments. And that’s just how it should be.
It’s a great reminder that all children are unique and that’s what makes them so special.
If you would like to win a copy of Quentin Blake’s new book – leave a comment below, or tweet us with the name of your favourite book and tell us why – especially if it has a disabled character!