Reviews /

Frankie’s World

Authored by Aoife Dooley
Illustrated by Aoife Dooley
Published by Scholastic

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Frankie’s World: When we meet Frankie, she tells us all about herself. Her likes and dislikes, how she feels, school, family and friendships. In fact, we meet Frankie on the front cover. Well, through her brilliantly stickered school bag.

The story follows her as she navigates the difficulty of hospital visits, school, an annoying little sister, a sick mum, the end of primary school, and the hope of finding the father who she has never met. Whoa! How much can one child cope with? Well actually, she does incredibly well. Her two friends are awesome, and I don’t doubt there isn’t anything they can’t do. Frankie explains what it’s like to be her. She describes how her tiny people fill her head, ‘each with their own job’ and sometimes ‘making her say and do the wrong things’. But she couldn’t be an alien, could she? She starts to think her dad may have been one. All because she thinks her ‘brain is broken’. Spoiler: it isn’t. Later, towards the end, doctors diagnose Frankie with autism, and everything then starts to make sense.

Without doubt, I’m so glad I got to read this graphic novel again. It’s funny, touching and uplifting. It puts you in the shoes of Frankie, and a whole host of characters coping with everything life can throw at them. Furthermore, it’s an empathy-laden story. But Frankie in no way lets us feel sorry for her. We want her to succeed and be happy, not because she’s different, but because we want everyone to be accepted and enjoy life. She’s one of billions who make up a diverse population.

Frankie’s World should be in all primary schools. What’s more, it’s suitable for anyone able to read it. Another point is that I wouldn’t describe it a book about autism or being neurodivergent. It’s a book about a girl who, like everyone, has problems at school and home and wants acceptance. It just happens that her brain works differently. ‘[Frankie’s World] inspires people and it’s made me happy’ says Imogen (11) from my school. Children you know will think this too.

Obviously, I want to read more from Aoife Dooley. I want to know more about Frankie and how she gets on at secondary school. Much in a similar way, I regularly think about past pupils and hope that they are doing okay on the next stage of their journeys.

Empathy Collection 2023

This collection is available from our bookselling partner Best Books for Schools