Maisie and Murray – Children’s stories featuring autistic characters

Painting shows Maisie, Murray, Mum and Dad travelling through a forest. This is an initial idea for one of the first pages of Maisie and Murray Book Two. Copyright Kerrie McKinnel 2022.

Background

In 2020, following her child’s autism diagnosis, Kerrie McKinnel began to search for fun and engaging children’s books which would help her to explain big ideas to growing autistic minds. Why do we need to hold hands in a busy car park, when I would rather run straight to the café in the distance? What happens when our plans unexpectedly change? How do we cope when the noises, sights and sounds around us becoming overwhelming?

She also wanted to find books which showed the reality of her child’s life – and that included the aids which had become a part of their daily coping mechanisms including ear defenders, comforter toys, chewy jewellery, sign language and more.

When Kerrie couldn’t find a suitable book, she decided to write one by herself. She was lucky enough to receive support from DG Unlimited and Dumfries & Galloway Council through their Innovate Create Cultivate award in 2020/21 and again in 2021/22. She is hugely grateful to these organisations for their support which has allowed her to research and develop her original idea.

The Maisie and Murray series is the result of this work.

The Books

Each book features siblings Maisie (age 7) and Murray (age 10). They live with their mum and dad in a small Scottish village where there is always an adventure waiting to happen!

Maisie, Murray and Dad are all autistic – and they are also all individuals. Maisie talks non-stop about her specialist subjects and struggles with strong emotions; Murray is non-verbal and has an incredible memory; meanwhile, Dad is a logical and intelligent thinker, and uses computer-game structure to help himself feel more in control of life.

Book One (working title Maisie and Murray go for a Picnic) is in its final stage of edits. In this story, Maisie and Murray go for a walk with Dad, but their plans go a bit wrong when they get lost. Will they be able to overcome their own fears and work together to get home before bedtime?

Book Two (working title Maisie and Murray visit a castle) is in its early draft stages, and is due to be distributed to beta readers in spring 2022. In this story, Maisie makes the most of a fun day out at a castle, but Murray struggles with sensory overwhelm. When Murray disappears, is their day out ruined?

Further updates will be published in spring/summer 2022.

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“I’m so pleased that you’re doing this. […] You’ve handled the subject really sensitively and I love that it’s Murray – as the non-verbal one – who is the hero of the book, but that they all work together to use their strengths and overcome one another’s struggles.”

“I’d love to see this completed and on the shelves!”

“Great book! (Double thumbs up)”

Beta reader feedback on Book 1