Paws by Kate Foster
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.