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New Children's Book Tackles ADHD with Humour and Kindness

Local author hopes neuro-divergent readers will see themselves in Queenie Jean

One thing's for sure: Queenie Jean is always in trouble. This ten-year old might be the heroine of her own chaotic life, but she is determined to find her own way in her new school.

Queenie Jean is in Trouble Again is the debut novel by local author Christine Read, who has agreed to share a peek inside the pages.

Watershed: Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write this book? 


Christine Read: I first began working on Queenie Jean is in Trouble Again more than ten years ago. The novel started off as a simple desire to write the story my kids never had – a humorous chaotic tale set on Vancouver’s North Shore about a ten-year-old girl who doesn’t quite fit in. When my kids were young, they loved reading funny books, but there weren’t many available. Early readers suggested the main character had Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), like my daughter, and thus Queenie was born. And like my daughter when she was ten, Queenie Jean gets into trouble again and again. 


WS: Is this a story aimed only at kids who have ADHD, or would other readers enjoy it?


CR: Although the main character is a girl with ADHD, she doesn’t want to be defined by it and doesn’t even want her classmates to know she has it. But anyone who has ever started a new school where they know nobody, anyone who struggles to fit in, and anyone who feels like an underdog, can relate to Queenie’s story. And I hope parents, teachers and librarians will check it out as well.


WS: What is your favourite 'Queenie Jean' adventure? 


CR: My daughter has always had a creative, entrepreneurial streak and been money-motivated. From an early age, she created artwork of one form or another, sold it and saved the proceeds. So Chapter 13, Making Money, Honey was inspired by real events (although pencil cases were not involved) and the bank did get into trouble just like in Chapter 12, because they didn’t pay her enough interest.


WS: Why are stories with neuro-divergent protagonists important? 

CR: We all love seeing characters who look and/or act like us in the stories we read. A recent UK study found that after reading stories featuring neurodivergent characters, neurodivergent kids felt less alone and more understood. They also believed those stories helped reduce stigma and increase empathy among their peers. But the number of kid’s books featuring ADHD characters is far less than the 5-7% of the population who have ADHD. Clearly we need lots more stories about kids with ADHD!


WS: You mentioned that you are parent to a child with ADHD. How has that experience informed the writing of this story?


CR: From the moment my daughter could talk, we heard the same feedback from family members, friends and teachers : she doesn’t listen, she won’t focus and she can’t sit still. In grade 4 she was diagnosed with ADHD. My goal for Queenie Jean is in Trouble Again was to create a totally immersive first-person point of view through the eyes of Queenie. The reader sees only what she sees and hears only what she hears. I wanted to portray the magnitude of ADHD – it’s not just a set of behaviours observed during school hours but a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week complicated reality. 

WS: Are there any other Queenie Jean stories in the works? 


CR: I would love to write more Queenie Jean stories and have lots of ideas percolating about future adventures on the North Shore and beyond.


WS: What else should Watershed readers to know about this book and your work?


CR: Queenie Jean is in Trouble Again is illustrated by Queenie/me. It's inspired by the adventures of my daughter almost 20 years ago, but the novel is a contemporary work of fiction, cell phones and all. Queenie has a much easier time with school and family than my daughter ever did. By telling stories like this one, hopefully people will smile, and perhaps recognize themselves or their friend or classmate. And maybe there will be a little less misunderstanding about ADHD and a little more support.

Christine Read will be signing books at Indigo Books at Park Royal on Saturday June 1 between 1 and 3 p.m. The first two readers who share this article on social media (#QueenieJeanInTheWatershed) will win a free copy.

If you have thoughts you'd like to share, please leave a comment below or email 

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