Oli and the Pink Bicycle ISBN: 9781910039090
Published by British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), 2014
Oli is newly adopted and very happy with her new parents, but she has problems. Her mother was an alcoholic and this has meant that Oli has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. She has terrific tantrums when anything goes wrong and has some learning difficulties and physical problems as well. At school she is often in trouble and has no real friends, except Taylor, whom she sometimes isn't very kind to. For her seventh birthday she has been promised a pink bicycle, but when she and her parents get to the shop, the bicycle isn't there, and it will take a week for it to be ordered. Oli throws the mother-of-all-tantrums and has to be removed bodily. In spite of other presents and a cake, the birthday isn't a great success, and at school Oli bites the teacher and has another screaming fit and has to be carried off yet again. Mum collects her and they go home to the housing estate flat where they live. But Oli is still sad, and even more so when some of the Estate children tease her and steal her sweets. She then encounters a new person, one Aggie Witchhazel, who asks Oli what she is going to do about having her sweets stolen and promises to help her work it out. With her parents' permission, Oli visits Aggie and together they plan three quests, the I HAVE, I AM, I CAN system, whereby Oli lists all the people she HAS in her life who can help, all the things that she knows are good about herself, and finally, and most difficultly, how she CAN help herself to take care of herself. Along with talking to her parents and some of the other people who care about her, Oli learns to be stronger. The story is a good one, with lots of detail about Oli's life that make it interesting. We learn about her alcoholic mum and the various 'uncles' who used to be part of her life and how unhappy she has been, and there are little coloured illustrations sprinkled throughout. But is is a proper chapter book that newly-confident readers will find fascinating and which will provide real help to children who are suffering some of the same problems that Oli has. It is unusual to find a book that deals with foetal alcohol syndrome from a child's point of view, and this will be of real use to those coping with the condition. A set of questions and answers at the back of the book will help discussion along. A most welcome addition to the literature. The book is available from the BAAF, Saffron House, 6-10 Kirby Street, London EC1N 8TS or from Amazon.