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Children's & YA

'A Kind of Spark' by Elle McNicoll


Elle McNicoll is a neurodivergent editor, writer and former bookseller who is passionate about authentic neurodiverse representation and #OwnVoices storytelling in fiction, particularly children’s books.

She wrote her debut novel, A Kind of Spark for her eleven-year-old self, and found the courage to finish it after her own Masters dissertation research found that only 0.05% of protagonists in children’s books are neurodivergent.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Elle has taken the middle-grade world by storm with three further novels - Show Us Who You Are, Like a Charm and Like a Curse. A live action TV adaptation of A Kind of Spark is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer, which Elle worked closely on with BBC Children's and 9 Story Media. A second series is currently in production. 

In 2022 Elle founded The Adrien Prize to recognise and celebrate children's fiction that explores the disability experience.

Elle's next middle-grade novel, Keedie, is a prequel to A Kind of Spark and will be published in April 2024.


What we did

Reaching both neurodiverse and neurotypical readers to ensure learning and discussion was key to our approach. We focussed our strategy on targeting parents, carers, grandparents and teachers and worked closely with Elle to identify key supporters within the autistic community including appropriate charities. With early copies, we secured stellar reviews in The ObserverThe GuardianiWeekend, The Week, and PA Media, as well as solus Children’s Book of the Week reviews in both the Sunday Times and The Times on the same weekend. Further coverage appeared in The Week JuniorWRD About Books, and Kookie Magazine.

Broadcast support was targeted and online coverage proved key with children’s literacy and book sites, and autistic charities supporting the book, including the National Autistic Society, Autistic & Unapologetic and Autistic Girls Network. The Reader Teacher’s #PrimarySchoolBookClub and a 10-date blog tour successfully tapped into the online community of teachers and librarians.

One of the most high-profile debut children’s launches of 2020 (despite bookshops being closed when it launched) A Kind of Spark has remained in the public’s consciousness. It was awarded the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Story, and a TV adaptation is due for release this year. We have continued to build Elle’s profile as a vital middle-grade voice.

Our campaign was shortlisted for the 2021 Publishers’ Publicity Circle Annual Awards.

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