Strong and tough by Rico Hinson-King and Nick Sharratt

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A ‘story of big feelings, football and family’ will enrapture every reader as Charlie’s predicament unfolds. Charlie, a keen footballer, is separated from his birth parents and sisters when social workers take them into care. At first they place them in different foster homes, and although the carers give him his own room and toys to play with, Charlie feels alone without his sisters to play football with in the garden. But he decides he must be strong and tough. Eventually he is taken to another foster home, one which he feels could be his forever home, especially when his sisters are allowed to come as well. Charlie plays football avidly, encouraging the foster parents and his siblings to join him. They become a family unit and when the time comes along for the judge to make a decision, the foster carers decide to keep all three children and make their home a forever home.

Sad feelings are treated with sympathy through this amazing story, based on the experiences of the ten year old author, Rico Himson-King. Young children will recognise these feelings and admire the young boy who resolved to be strong and tough to overcome them. Resilience is the key to Charlie’s survival in his unfamiliar situation, one punctuated by social workers, carers, foster homes and judges.

The story will melt the hearts of anyone reading and along with the story of the author, will emphasise with children in this unenviable situation. That Charles and his siblings came out so well will be music to the ears of our younger readers, strengthening their resilience  and resolve to look for the brighter outcomes in life. This is a wonderfully positive read, one tinged with sadness that Charlie’s family has split and his concerns about what will happen to him and his sisters but overall he is resolved to be strong and tough and this resolution shines through, giving a positive role model to all readers.

The wonderfully warm illustrations give a lighter touch to the story, allowing a sometimes dire tale to unfold with lots of humour on every page (well, almost) which serve to give a positive overlay to Charlie’s problems.

A glossary in the front of the book tells readers what is meant by some of the words used: social worker, foster home, for example, and these are used in bold font throughout the book.

Themes: Resilience, Adoption, Foster homes, Social workers, Humour.

Fran Knight