What Happened To You?

Publisher: Faber

A little boy is engrossed in his game of pirates. He’s busy tackling crocodiles and dodging sharks when some new children arrive in the playground. Noticing that he only has one leg, the inevitable questions begin – where is the other leg? Is he hiding it? Was he attacked by lions? Or did it fall down the toilet? Joe has to fend off a barrage of interrogations before the kids all finally get on with the important job of avoiding being eaten by sharks.

Joe is a delightful protagonist. He’s clearly hugely adept at fielding such questions, but of course the ultimate question is should he have to? Surely every child is entitled to have fun and make friends without always being subjected to the same boring - and indeed personal – questions.

The message is clear and effectively reminds us that someone who happens to be disabled is not a teaching tool. But the moral of the story isn’t forced and the delivery not remotely worthy. It also offers practical solutions - at the end of the book, the author (who has lived experience as an amputee) adds a note of advice for adults on handling such questions.

With beautifully characterful illustrations and plenty of calming white space, it exudes gentle energy and humour to appeal to every child. 

This is a stunningly clever book. 

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