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Whizz-Kidz helps author create book

Tuesday 2nd October 2012

An author's tale of a superhero schoolboy who uses a wheelchair is to help children like the book's star.

Frank Lambert penned Napoleon Xylophone after his son Mikey helped him to see how disabled people were under- represented in fiction.

Napoleon, known as Zam, is a 15-year-old wheelchair-user from Newcastle. In the story, the boy finds himself in an extraordinary underworld beneath the city centre.

Frank researched the book by talking to Mikey, 13, an ambassador for the charity Whizz-Kidz, and spent a large amount of time at the charity's Newcastle Club, using workshops with young disabled people to flesh out story and concept ideas.

He said: "My son asked me one day if I could name five disabled superheroes in fiction. I pretty much dried up after naming Professor X from X-Men, and it made me wonder how that made Mikey feel. At the time I was completing an MA in creative writing at Teesside University which required me to design a writing workshop to work with a group close to my heart.

"The book is primarily set in Newcastle because that's where Whizz-Kidz's North East Ambassador Club is based, and I wanted the young people who worked on the story to feel as close to the characters and locations as possible. I wanted to create a hero who they could look up to, one who they could become with a little imagination."

The name Napoleon Xylophone was created by members of the club, and a percentage of the profits are being donated to Whizz-Kidz.

Frank said: "None of the kids wanted Napoleon to be an issues story. First and foremost it had to be something anyone could pick up, read and enjoy. If we managed to give readers a glimpse of what it means to be a young person who uses a wheelchair, then that would be a bonus. I hope we've managed to achieve at least that much with the book."

Napoleon Xylophone is available as a hard copy or ebook.

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