Book Review: Ginger is a Hero


Ginger is a Hero, by Beth Webb, is the first in a new series of books, Page Turners, to be published by Beyond Words. I wrote about Beyond Words here; do give the post a read to better understand why these books are important.

The story is told entirely in pictures, drawn by the author, who is an established writer and illustrator of children’s and YA fiction. Each page turn offers one picture, designed to clearly convey what is happening with gentle colours and uncluttered design. This style of storytelling has been tested on the target audience to ensure that they will understand and enjoy reading the story.

The tale opens by introducing us to a young lady, we will call her Mary, who is obviously a cat lover. There is no cat in the first picture so the reader is left to decide for themselves why this may be. I consider this a strength of the book, and is one of its purposes, that each reader may create their own version of the story in their head.

Mary has an elderly neighbour who does not like her. The neighbour’s cat, the adorable Ginger of the title, is pleased to see Mary but their interactions make the neighbour angry. Again, there is much to consider in these scenes.

It starts to rain and night falls. Mary notices that Ginger cannot get into his house and feels sad. The next day, with Ginger still scratching at his front door, Mary goes to investigate. When nobody answers the door she peers through a window and sees her neighbour collapsed on the floor. She phones for help.

Police and medics arrive and Mary comforts Ginger, offering to care for him. She understands that her neighbour will worry about her cat’s well-being so, on another day, Mary visits her neighbour in hospital to reassure her. The story has a happy ending.

The aim of this book is to make reading fun for those who have difficulty with words, and it is a lovely story offering plenty to think about and to discuss. There are lessons that can be learned about friendship, dealing with a crisis, or the reader may simply enjoy the tale of a cat who, by being a hero, ensured that he was fed.


At the end of the book the plot is briefly put into words for the benefit of those, perhaps supporters of the reader, who want some ideas about one possible story. It is explained that most readers make up their own.

When I pick up a work of fiction I am also interpreting the story in my head based on my experiences. As Edmund Wilson said, “No two persons ever read the same book”. I love the idea that, with this new series, adults with learning difficulties may enjoy reading stories, just for pleasure, as the rest of us do.

Everyone should have access to books they can read. If my enjoyment of this book is anything to go by, Ginger should become a firm favourite with his target audience.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Beyond Words.



Books Beyond Words


Today I received a very special book in the post, Ginger is a Hero, by Beth Webb. I plan to review it in the next couple of days but first wished to talk about its provenance.

It tells a story but there are no words, only pictures. People who cannot read, or who don’t like written words, are often very good at reading pictures. This book is published by a small, not for profit organisation called Beyond Words who publish books and provide services for adults with learning disabilities.

Each of their books tells a story, but they also let the reader tell their own story – the one they see in the pictures. This can tell a lot about a person’s inner world and their understanding of situations. There is plenty to talk about and each story explores feelings and reactions as well as giving information.

For someone who struggles with words there are barriers to getting the right health or social care and support. Even when a person with a problem reaches someone who can help, like a doctor, a social worker or a therapist, there can be communication problems and anxieties on both sides. By telling the story in pictures, each Beyond Words title gives people the chance to work together to explore different types of situations.

Ginger is a Hero is the first in a new Beyond Words series called Page Turners. These stories are designed to be read for fun, alone or with others. Ginger is a cat who befriends a young neighbour, much to the annoyance of the elderly lady Ginger lives with. Who wouldn’t want to read a story about a typically obdurate but adorable cat?

Everyone should have a right to read and enjoy books. With this new Beyond Words series readers who struggle with words are offered the opportunity to enjoy stories, as those of us avid readers of words can do.

As we celebrate the joy provided by books through initiatives such as Books Are My Bag, Super Thursday and National Poetry Day, may we remember that our education and abilities are privileges.