Bobby Charlton and the Mountain

The plot revolves around the necessity to raise funds for a new football kit for Bobby in time for the queen’s visit to his school. Thanks to a resourceful sister, the kit arrives, but not in the way they anticipated. The story is readable for those at a ‘first chapter book’ level. It has an up-beat feel-good factor and it sustained my interest to the end. This book stands on its own merit as an accessible and interesting story for a young reader. But what was of particular interest to me was the portrayal of Bobby, a boy with Down’s syndrome. I was anxious to ascertain if this was a realistic portrayal and so I took advice from a family with a son who has Down’s syndrome. Obviously there is the same range of personalities within this group as there is in any group, but allowing for individual differences the family felt that these characteristics displayed by Bobby were not unusual in children with Down’s syndrome: lack of awareness of danger, tendency to withdraw when upset, flexible joints, pleasure in tactile stimulation, liking of repetition and so on. Issues around teasing of people with special needs are not fudged by Sophie Smiley and the only slight problem I have is the air-brushed image on the cover by Michael Foreman. This book has much to recommend it to a 6–10-year-old.