Iris Grace by Arabella Carter-Johnson – Published by Penguin, 2016
He parents tried many things to try to include her in the wider world but still she didn’t speak, rarely making eye contact and going into meltdown whenever she was exposed to the unfamiliar or anything noisy or too stimulating.
Gradually she made progress, but for every step forward there was a step back: starting pre-school, the adoption of a puppy aimed at taking on the role of ‘assistance dog’ and lots of other creative ideas all failed to calm Iris Grace.
As her parents’ fought to help her and themselves, they came up with the idea of getting a cat. Enter Thula, a Maine Coone kitten. For me that’s when the story came alive, showing, like the story of Streetcat Bob, albeit to a lesser extent, how finding your animal soulmate can transform a human life for the better.
An intriguing and eventually heartwarming story, but not without a few jarring notes, for example, when telling of an unfortunate experience whilst attending a music concert.
I was also surprised that the writer seemed taken aback that she should be asked lots of questions, or as she says, that she should be “vetted” before being allowed to adopt a kitten. As it turned out, those questions and the answers led to Iris Grace meeting Thula, her supporter, teacher and best friend.
The book includes some wonderful photos and examples of Iris Grace’s amazing paintings, many of which are on sale with the proceeds going towards the cost of art materials and therapy.