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Books Featuring Limb Difference

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Susan Brownrigg, author of Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest (available here), has picked some recommended children’s books featuring children with limb difference – which is the partial or complete absence of individual limbs.

Vashti Hardy
Chapter book

Brightstorm is a cracking adventure story with flying ships, intrepid explorers, identity quests, sapient animals and the most wonderful cast of characters.

This thrilling steampunk adventure follows siblings Arthur and Maudie Brightstorm as they try to find out what happened to their explorer father. Arthur, who has a prosthetic iron right arm, is a great problem solver and book lover, while his sister is good at fixing things. When they learn about a race to South Polaris, where their father was lost, they win a place onboard the Aurora, a fantastic sky-ship. Maudie’s talent with tools see her appointed as second engineer. Arthur is hired as cook’s assistant.

On board Arthur adapts to draining tasks, although his iron arm is heavy and can cause him pain, while also learning new skills – making marsh cakes and communicating with thought wolves!

Stories about explorers and expeditions are always popular in primary classrooms and this one, with its fresh take on the adventure quest and its convincing world-building, is sure to fire up imaginations and become a firm favourite with budding adventurers across KS2.

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A heart-warming story about nine-year-old Ada and her younger brother Jamie, who are evacuated from London to the country during WWII. Ada was born with clubfoot and has been cruelly ill-treated by her mother, who refused to let her outside. Ada and Jamie are taken in by Susan, a single woman struggling with grief. Ada builds up her strength, makes friends, learns to read and finds a passion for horse riding, but can she also learn to accept love and face her painful past? A beautifully emotive story with characters you won’t forget. Ada’s story, post surgery, continues in The War I Finally Won.

Frank Cottrell Boyce
 & Steven Lenton
Chapter book

A funny, inventive tale told in first person by Alfie Miles, a Year 7 boy who discovers a one-legged robot in an airport’s lost property. Alfie’s right hand was amputated in an accident and he has been given a state-of-the-art prosthetic hand, but he is struggling to accept the new limb and he has the feeling he’s forgotten something really important. A fast-paced adventure, inspired by a real-life robot. Steve Lenton’s illustrations are excellent and it is great to see Alfie and his friends positively depicted with their limb differences.

Karen McCombie
 & Jasu Hu
Chapter book

A wonderful Scottish historical adventure about Bridie ‘Little Bird’ MacKerrie, who must leave her island home when a new Laird takes over. Bridie was born premature and with a ‘wee twisted foot,’ and a ‘weak, withered’ arm, but she is determined and fierce in doing what is right. Set in 1861, this is a vivid historical drama with family at its heart. The story continues in Little Bird Lands, when Bridie and her family emigrate to America.

Susan Brownrigg
Chapter book

Gracie Fairshaw has moved to Blackpool with Ma and younger brother George to run The Majestic, a typical seaside Boarding House. The Fairshaws have barely settled in when Ma mysteriously vanishes. Gracie, George, and their new friends, siblings Violet and Tom and Phyllis the maid must work out which of the guests is responsible for Ma’s disappearance as the clock ticks down to the 1935 Illuminations Switch-on. Gracie has congenital limb difference, and her left arm ends just past her elbow.

A gripping mystery story. Ma disappears on the eve of the 1935 Blackpool lights switch on. Blackpool is a great setting and  Gracie, her brother and two friends are wonderful characters. A mystery adventure for fans of Katherine Woodfine and Jacqueline Wilson.

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