It’s encouraging to see a more diverse range of main characters appearing in children’s books at the moment. It’s in this way that we can help develop empathy and understanding of those different to ourselves. That’s why I was very happy to be invited to take part in the blog tour for Double Felix.
Felix’s life revolves around a series of rituals involving even numbers, especially the number two – tapping door handles twice, lining up objects in pairs and only stepping on even-numbered steps. If he doesn’t do these things then, in his mind, something terrible might happen to the people he loves. His rules and rigid expectations regarding sticking to timetables and routines means that Felix has been getting into some pretty serious trouble at school and is on the verge of getting expelled.
Then one day, a girl wearing cat ears and a tail as part of her school uniform arrives and sits next to Felix in class. Her disregard for the rules troubles Felix at first. But is it just possible that Felix could be wrong when he’s normally so particular about things being right?
As we’re gradually introduced to Felix’s many fixations, it starts to become clear just what a hold they have over him and how entirely they can consume him. It was interesting to learn about his safe space (the library) where everything is calm and ordered and Felix feels he can be helpful.
I also enjoyed watching Felix slowly come to the realisation that he had made a friend, and the impact this had on his self-confidence and determination to change. It was also refreshing to see a character with mental health issues help somebody else overcome a difficulty they were facing. Too often, characters with mental health problems can be seen as passive or needy. It was brilliant to see Felix not only help himself but someone else too.
This book has the added bonus of being funny, which makes it the perfect choice as a text to prompt discussion about mental health issues with Key Stage 2 children and raise awareness of ‘hidden illnesses’ as well as being a great read.
Sally Harris is a teacher who grew up in rural Australia who has been busy teaching and writing both in Australia and I’m the UK.
Many thanks to Wacky Bee Books for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and make sure you take a look at some of the other stops too.