‘The Asparagus Bunch’ is the first of two book from debut author, Jessica Scott-Whyte. In addition to featuring a cast of neurodiverse characters, it is also printed using a dyslexia-friendly font. The story is based on the author’s own lives experiences with autism but has also drawn on advice the National Autistic Society.
‘Leon John Crothers is 4779 days old (thirteen years and one month, if you’re mathematically challenged). He has been ‘moved on’ from six different schools and most people think he has an attitude problem. Leon doesn’t care for the label, in the same way that he doesn’t care for Tim Burton, supermarket trolleys, train fanatics or Bounty bars.
This time, however, things may turn out differently, as help comes from where he least expects it – Dr Snot, a physician at pains to help Leon navigate ‘normal’ and classmates, Tanya and Lawrence, who both face their own challenges. When school bully Glen Jenkins humiliates Leon in the school canteen and almost destroys Lawrence, Leon very reluctantly agrees to the formation of a club, The Asparagus Bunch.
How Leon manages to navigate school woes and family drama – and astonishingly ends up with not one but two friends – is nothing short of a miracle, or maybe just simply down to being different.’
I was first alerted to the existence of this rather wonderful book when I was asked to do the cover reveal a little while ago. The title intrigued me initially, then I was hooked in by the humour of the opening extract. Leon’s wry observations and interesting interpretations of events certainly provided some snort-aloud moments!
As someone who works with children, I am thrilled to see more books coming into the market featuring a range of neurodiverse characters – especially those whose authors have lived experiences of the conditions highlighted. The Asparagus Bunch manages to be hilarious but poignant and tender at the same time. Watching Leon navigate a new school, making friends, and experiencing some fairly large changes in his otherwise very ordered life was a real rollercoaster of a ride. I’d recommend this book to readers aged 11+
*Many thanks to Welbeck Flame for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour*