A novel featuring a heroine who has Down’s syndrome has been praised for the way it portrays those living with the condition.
Joseph Elliott from Bristol wrote The Good Hawk after a football injury left him unable to work as Cook in the CBeebies programme Swashbuckle.
He said Agatha was influenced by young people he worked with as a teaching assistant at a special needs school.
Mr Elliott said he was “blown away” by the responses to the story.
Maya, 16, who has Down’s syndrome, read the book in two weeks and said it was “gripping”.
“I really liked Agatha and I think she is a good representation of someone who has Down’s syndrome, because she is brave and fierce,” she said.
“Other people may think she’s slow, but I know that Agatha won’t let people think too little of her.”
In the mythical world of the story there is no word for Agatha’s condition.
“She doesn’t see herself as being ‘different’ to others – she is who she is, brave and bold, kind and impulsive, and she’s confident in her own abilities,” said Mr Elliott.
The Down’s Syndrome Association welcomed “the fact that although one of the main characters has Down’s syndrome, the novel is not ‘about’ Down’s syndrome”.
A spokesperson for the association said it allowed the reader “to enjoy the character for the funny, kind, strong 15-year-old girl that she is”.
“I’ve had parents of children with Down’s syndrome telling me how grateful they are to have this heroine,” said Mr Elliott.
“They’ve never read a book with a heroine with a disability and really, what are we teaching our kids if they can’t see themselves represented?
“It’s mind-blowing to have that support – that’s really the best thing, it’s wonderful.”
The Good Hawk is the first in the Shadow Skye trilogy.