Smart by Kim Slater

Kieran is different from other boys his age. He needs special support at school and he doesn’t understand how to interact with people. His home life is difficult, with a violent and lazy stepfather and his weak and nasty son. It isn’t easy for Kieran to cope with all these pressures and he finds solace in his interests – drawing and observing. Not only does he draw beautifully, but he also doesn’t judge people on the fringe of society. That is why he is friends with Jean, the homeless lady, and why he becomes involved in trying to solve the mystery of her friend, Colin’s, death. His investigations and determination take him on a journey of discovery – both of his own abilities and of the world and people around him.

It is interesting to see the world through Keiran’s honest and non-judgmental eyes. He shows bullies for the cowards they are and he shows the human face of people marginalised by society. There is a lot to make the reader think and question – the treatment of homeless people, the feelings of newly arrived refugees, battered wives and their families, the mistreatment of animals (and perhaps whether the mistreatment of animals bothers society more than the mistreatment of people). However, there is more than a message here, this is also an adventure and a whodunit. Similar to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, but for a slightly younger audience.


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