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Leo struggles to make sense of the world. He finds it too loud. He finds it too bright. And he finds it a bit chaotic. Other children don’t understand him and he feels very alone. But then one day, he meets an octopus called Maya who can change colour according to her mood. Fascinated, he learns all that he can about octopuses and by sharing his passion and knowledge he starts to think that maybe he isn’t so along after all. This is a dreamy but thoughtful story about an autistic child and how the bond he forms with one of Earth’s astonishing creatures leads him to understand himself better but it also helps him to form friendships with another child. It sensitively handles the main character’s neurodivergence and makes it understandable and relatable for readers who do not have first hand experience of autism. But crucially it also provides children with autism, a mirror into their own world, to show them that other children feel like them, and helps them cope in a world that doesn’t always understand them. Recommended for kids aged 4-7. You’ll enjoy this if you like stories such as My Brother Otto by Meg Raby, A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey or Tom Percival’s series including Perfectly Norman.
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