Blackpool carer writes anti-bullying book inspired by autistic brother

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Marie Stell’s book ‘Little Spud’ is all about diversity and shows children that it’s okay to be different

 

Seeing her autistic brother being bullied inspired Marie Stell to write a book.

The 41-year- old carer and author from North Shore sold 300 copies of Little Spud in the first two weeks when it recently hit the shops.

She hopes the book will help her to spread her anti-bullying message to youngsters.

Author Marie Stell, Winston the Shih Tzu, and Christopher with the Little Spud the dragon book and characters made by Janet Earl

Author Marie Stell, Winston the Shih Tzu, and Christopher with the Little Spud the dragon book and characters made by Janet Earl

Marie, of Holmfield Road, said: “Autistic children are too often told they’re not good enough.

“They are told the things they can’t do, but really they can achieve anything if they are given a chance.”

Little Spud, the main character, is on the autistic spectrum and sometimes life can be difficult.

He is a little, friendly, blue dragon but is bullied for being different.

By the end he proves everyone wrong and becomes a film star.

The story was inspired by her experiences caring for her brother, Christopher, who loves acting.

Marie started writing poetry around six years ago, based on her own experiences and those of people around her.

Then came the pantomime scripts and pint-sized pantos which she wrote for the inclusive drama group she set up with her brother so that people of all abilities have the chance to go on stage.

Being strongly against bullying and disability discrimination, she decided to turn her poem ‘Little Spud’ into a story to hopefully inspire children of all capabilities and to make them see that they all have the magic to shine inside them – they just have to believe in themselves.

Earlier this year, 30-year-old Christopher – a Manchester City supporter – received a birthday greeting from the team manager, Pep Guardiola.

But he had been bullied throughout his life, starting at school.

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“He thought they were actually going to China.

“The kids really teased him for it, and the teachers didn’t understand why he was distressed.”

Christopher, who also has issues with speech and motor skills, started acting on stage in 2013.

Marie added: “He joined a local amateur dramatics group, and performed at murder mystery events.

“They didn’t expect him to be any good, but he’s so talented.

“More importantly it helped his confidence and really brought him out of his shell.”

After leaving that group, she started an inclusive drama group, North Shore All Players, in 2016.

It’s a non-profit club held at Bispham Conservative Club, and it’s all about having fun.

Marie added: “Egos are left at the door – everyone gets a shot.

“ If you’re worried you’ll forget your lines it’s fine to bring a script on stage.

“It’s a safe space.”

She wants to show children that it’s okay to be different and to accept people who aren’t like them.

She said: “Caring for Christopher has made me a fighter. Everyone has the right to exist in this world and be safe from bullying.

“It doesn’t matter what you’ve achieved.”

Little Spud is available through Purple Parrot Publishing and is on sale at Waterstones and Amazon.

And 10 per cent of all sales go to the National Autistic Society.

Purple Parrot Publishing is a small, local, independent publisher based in Thornton. Visit https://www.purpleparrotpublishing.co.uk/ for more information.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.

One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

The National Autistic Society offers help, support and social activities for autistic adults, children and their families.