Paws
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Paws

Kate Foster

At home, Alex’s best friend is Kevin the cockapoo, although what he wants most of all is a friend at school. But that is harder than he ever expected. A touching story about learning that friendship isn’t one size fits all and is often found where you least expect it.

Everything is changing for 11-year-old Alex and, as an autistic person, change can be terrifying. With the first day of high school only a couple of months away, Alex is sure that having a friend by his side will help. So, he’s devised a plan - impress the kids at school by winning a trophy at the PAWS Dog Show with his trusty sidekick, Kevin.

This should be a walk in the park … right?

Review

The transition from primary school to year seven is a challenge most 11-year-olds must face but for Alex, adapting to a new experience is simply terrifying. Interactions most children wouldn’t think twice about – team sports and communication with teachers and peers – are challenging Alex on a daily basis; his problems seem insurmountable.

Even with the support of his loving family, understanding teachers and best mate, Kevin the dog, Alex desperately wants to find a friend. Alex sets out a plan to impress the children at school by winning a competition and as a result, win over their admiration. But when a new family moves into his neighbourhood, a fresh opportunity for friendship presents itself. If only Alex wasn’t too single-minded to notice.

This is a story of friendship, understanding and empathy. I loved its honest, perceptive portrayal of Alex, his challenges with autism and the story’s gentle and positive resolution. Wonderfully insightful, it will definitely strike a chord with confident, independent readers ages 9 and up and make for a satisfying read-aloud story for the classroom.


Athina Clarke is the children’s book buyer at Readings Malvern.

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