Mairi Hedderwick’s artwork has brought a breath of fresh island air to thousands of homes throughout the world since the first Katie Morag picture book was published in 1984. Recently Katie Morag has gained even more fans through a much-loved CBBC series filmed in live action on the Isle of Lewis.
Now Hedderwick has collaborated with Edinburgh publishing company Barrington Stoke, which specialises in books adapted to support children who struggle to access the printed word due to dyslexia or other issues.
The Bad Trousers and The Big Fib, out this month, introduce Robbie MacGregor, who lives in a small Highland village with his ‘experimental’ cook mother, fisherman father and knitting-champ Granny. The stories were developed by well-known author Ros Asquith based on a character Hedderwick first invented twenty years ago to teach Scottish schoolchildren to read. In turn this character was based on a real island boy Hedderwick knew – now, of course, a grown-up. The books are suitable for 5-8s.
A font that can help people with dyslexia read more easily
Both books are typeset in a font that is designed to help stop dyslexic people’s tendencies to muddle, flip or confuse letters. Every letter has an exaggerated and unique shape so, for example, a ‘b’ and a ‘d’ are not mirror images of each other. Special increased line and letter spacing is also used, and the books are printed on a tinted yellow background, which can help readers with dyslexia or visual stress.
Of course, both stories can be enjoyed by any young reader – and there’s a reassurance to gaining solo reading experience with a much-loved picture book author, as many young people have grown up hearing their parents read the same author’s work aloud.
In good company
Hedderwick is the latest in a list of well-known children’s authors and illustrators to lend their talents to Barrington Stoke. The company counts War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson and many more among its writers and well known Scottish-based wildlife artist Catherine Rayner among its illustrators.
“If a child is struggling, the last thing he or she wants is a book that looks ‘special’,” says Managing Director of Barrington Stoke, Mairi Kidd. “They want to read the same brilliant authors and look at the same stunning pictures as their peers. As a Scottish company we are especially delighted that Mairi Hedderwick has agreed to lend us her very special talents and we are really pleased to have a Highland-set story on our list.”