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Hooray for Aiden, written by Karen Hollett, illustrated by Lori-Lee Thomas

Cherry Hughes | 01.09.2010

Reviewed by Cherry Hughes, BSA Education Officer. Book published by Hooray Publishing, 2010.

Hooray for Aiden Aimed at children aged 4-9, this book is set in North America and its author stammers herself. The story describes the feelings and thoughts of Aiden, a young school-aged child who stammers, as she moves to a new school where she does not know anybody at all. It realistically depicts the worries and struggles of such a child as she tries to cope with the teacher's request to introduce herself to the new class, answer the curious questions of a classmate, and mix with the children in the playground. Aiden backs out of all these situations and ends up sitting miserably on her own while the others are playing football, a game at which she excels.

The illustrations graphically support the text, as they show Aiden becoming more and more miserable and withdrawn while yearning to be just like the other kids. The teacher is clearly shown as sympathetic to Aiden and does not force her to speak, and the reader feels that the teacher may have some plans to help her.

Sure enough in the second week of school for Aiden there is a visitor to the class, a policemen, Dave. As he introduces himself it is obvious that he stammers and Aiden registering this fact is movingly described as you feel her mounting excitement that such an important person should be just like her. As the others ask him questions about his job, Aiden quietly listens until Timmy asks Dave, 'Why do you talk funny?' This leads Aiden to blurt out 'T-T-T-here's nothing wrong with talking l-l-like that.' Dave picks up on the point to talk about his speech, emphasising that 'People who stutter are just r-r-r-egular people.'

When Dave leaves the classroom, to the applause of the children, Aiden asks the teacher if she can introduce herself to the class now. She does this stammering on a few words but obviously encouraged by Dave's example. She goes on to ask if she can join in the football and ends the story by 'loving her new school.'

This is a simple tale that is well written and illustrated to be enjoyed not only by the child who stammers but by all independent readers of primary school age. However, for younger readers it is very suitable for reading aloud by parents or professionals working with children who stammer, as it offers a good story and characterisation with considerable opportunity for a gentle exploration of the issues for a young child who stammers.

The book is available from the BSA members library, or from the publishers: www.hooraypublishing.com

Extended version of review in Autumn 2010 issue of 'Speaking Out', page 9