176pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99
Harriet Hound is pretty much like other girls her age – she is eight years old; she has short curly hair; her favourite letter is H; she lives in a town called Labrador; and she loves dogs. She lives with her grandparents, her mum, and her older brother Hugo in a huge home especially built to be dog-friendly and now it is a dog rescue shelter. BUT – she is also autistic and has a superpower that allows her to summon the dogs from her family’s rescue shelter every time there’s trouble afoot… Whether it’s a carnival catastrophe, a sudden storm, or vanishing vegetables, Harriet and her best dog friends use their super special talents and problem-solving skills to save the day!
Told in a series of short stories, this is a delightful book from the author of one of my favourite recent releases, The Bravest Word and again, she makes Harriet’s autism such a natural part of her life, something Harriet and her family are comfortable with, and it is this authenticity that not only allows those on the spectrum to read a book about themselves but for those around them to understand the condition better. As Harriet says, “I stimmed. I flapped my hands out to the side and clicked my fingers out in front of me over and over again. It’s okay. There’s no need to be worried. Stimming is something I do ALL THE TIME. I do it when I’m worried and when I’m angry. Sometimes I can’t stop my hands from doing it, but I also do it when I’m excited or when I’m happy. I stim to calm myself down.” Can there be a better, more straightforward explanation By showing that being autistic is just a different way of being human, that there is nothing wrong that needs to be “fixed”, and certainly nothing to be ashamed or frightened of, Foster advances the cause of acceptance immeasurably. Indeed, she continues this focus on kids with special needs in her upcoming book, The Unlikely Heroes Club.
Autistic or not, this is a wonderful set of stories for young, independent readers who love dogs and who would desperately like to live where Harriet does, and have her superpower.