‘Finding My Voice,’ by Aoife Dooley.

Fans of Dooley’s first Frankie adventure, ‘Frankie’s World,’ will be pleased to know that they can catch up with Frankie again and see how things are going at senior school following her diagnosis of autism.

I had the chance to ask the creator of this graphic novel series, Aoife Dooley, some questions about the creation of this story and how her own experiences and diagnosis helped shape it. Make sure you read what she had to say below…

“How do you find your voice when everyone around you is telling you to be quiet?

Frankie is different, and so is her best-friend, Sam. So when they both start secondary school, it’s tough. Particularly when there are so many rules to follow, like: No talking in class! Be quiet in the hallways! Silence for assembly!

Frankie doesn’t know how she’ll manage, because constantly talking is how she copes. So when she gets the chance to compete in a Battle of the Bandscontest, Frankie couldn’t be more excited. Except, to have a band, you need to have band members. And to have band members, you need to be good at making friends…

Can Frankie learn to find her voice and stand out?”

And now it’s time for some questions…

1. Why is it important that there are ‘own voices’ stories representing neurodiverse people?

I think it’s very important for kids to be able to see themselves represented in books and there’s no better way to do that than through own voice experiences. I think it helps kids feel less alone but also helps others to understand something that maybe they didn’t understand before.

2. Why did you want readers to rejoin Frankie as she starts secondary school?

I think starting secondary school can be a daunting time and I wanted to show how an autistic person may experience starting in a whole new school. For Frankie, she has a lot of things to figure out and really I wanted to show how you can form friendships with people of similar interests.

3. In the book, Frankie has only recently received her autism diagnosis. What difference do you think it may have made if you had been diagnosed earlier?

I think I may have had more confidence in myself and I think that would have come from the simple fact that I’d have understood myself better rather than constantly wondering why I couldn’t do anything right as that has a huge impact on a lot of kids.

4. I love the themes of being yourself and finding your people. Why were these central to Frankie’s next adventure?

I wanted to introduce some new characters in Frankie’s new school and I think it was important to see Frankie and how she approached making friends. For a lot of autistic kids the social side can be hard and we see this with Frankie at different stages of the book.

5. What are your thoughts on the arts as an outlet for young (and not so young) people?

I think art, particularly drawing is for everyone! A lot of people say ‘ah it’s not for me’ but it’s actually a very relaxing thing to do and i’d encourage everyone to give it a go. I think for young people too it’s a great way of expressing yourself

Thank you, Aoife, for creating such a wonderful series of graphic novels which so many children will see themselves reflected in. Whether it’s the worry of going to secondary and making new friends, being bold enough to be your authentic self, or beginning to understand what a diagnosis of autism might look like for you, there are so many important themes handled with sensitivity and humour.

I’m excited to see what happens next for Frankie…


*Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this title to review*

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