The Five of Us by Quentin Blake

Drawing of a boy using a walker and a catDisabled 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.

The Five of Us book coverBlake 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!

17 thoughts on “The Five of Us by Quentin Blake”

  1. Hi. We would love a copy of this book for our storytelling workshops with Follow Your Dreams Charity for children and young people who have learning disabilities and their siblings! 🙂

  2. My favourite book as a child was “Pookie” by Ivy Wallace, first published in 1946, my Grandfather used to have an old battered copy that I always read when visiting! Pookie is a rabbit with wings! Because he was “different” and not very clever Pookie was made fun of and he left home looking for his “fortune”, which turned out to be love and acceptance!

  3. Excellent initiative. I’ll be ordering these for my little boy Charlie who has hemiplegia! Thank you for thinking about and taking action on making disabled children more visible in literature!

  4. Guernica by Dave Boling is one of my favourite books.
    In when he is made disabled he carries on and at the end it gives you hope. The book is so well written, you never want it to end!

  5. Charlie Stinky Socks. Not a disabled character – but one that can overcome everything! Recently saw the Quentin Blake exhibition of illustrations for hospitals – awesome! Would love to add this to our home library.

  6. We love ‘Just Because’ and ‘Sometimes’ by Rebecca Elliott. It shows the world of disabilities in such a positive way. Ava’s big sister makes connections with her way of life and things make more sense and it allows her to ask questions that she may not have been able to without the prompts in these books. It has also given her ideas of how to interact even more with her special sister.

  7. This story sounds delightful and it’s so nice to see something written to include children with disabilities/abilities. I’d love to win the book to share with my daughter!

  8. sounds great I’ve just returned to studies after raising my family and I have returned to my love of reading . would be great to read to the grandchildren aswell.

  9. Hi My Name is Natasha, I have Cp and I was involved with ‘in the Picture’ too as some photos of me were used by Quentin Blake for illustrations as I use a hart walker. Last month I used my walker to climb the highest mountain in southern Britain (after I had sailed there by mouth ) My favourite book is Taking on the World by Ellen MacArthur because it is such an inspiring story! I would love a copy of this book for my little sister who is 7

    1. We have a new lot of stepgranchildren and 2 of the brothers have cp and are wheelchair bound but at 5 and 10 are attending their local state primary school. They would I think love this book to be given to their school. My book “anne of green gables” sheer escapism.

  10. My daughter is hearing and vision impaired, so we really value books with disabled characters. One of her favourite books is Julia Donaldson’ s Freddy and Fairy. The fairy can’t hear very well and the fairy queen has to give Freddy some communication tips. Brilliant book.

  11. Read a lot as a child and can’t recall any disabled characters. Brilliant that things are changing. Blake’s book sounds great and i would pass it on to my nephew and nieces.

  12. What an amazing subject for a book! Just because a child has a disability does not limit what they are capable of doing. I can’t remember books from my childhood that had a disabled character either. Now that it has happened hopefully it will change things for the better

  13. My favourite story is by my son (now 11) he is autistic, dyslexic and has HMS. He wrote it about some animals who all have their own special abilities and an elephant trying to find his (very much like this book) and it blew us and his teachers away and showed us his special ability is creating stories, it’s just a shames he can’t put them onto paper!

  14. My favorite is “not your typical dragon”. About a dragon who can’t breathe fire but instead breathes bubbles, water and other things. He runs away because he isn’t the same but in the end he is accepted and accepts himself as he is. I love it because my son is not your typical toddler.

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