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Sally Gardner and Standish Treadwell

This is the second post in our dyslexia series. The first post was on Leonardo da Vinci and you can read it here.

On the 19th of June, the winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal, perhaps the most prestigious prize for children’s fiction in the UK, will be announced. With this in mind, we have decided to share a post about one of our favourite authors.

Who is Sally Gardner?

Sally Gardner is an award-winning novelist who writes for children and young adults. Her books have sold over two million copies in the United Kingdom. Her career is especially inspiring because Gardner did not learn to read until she was fourteen years old. Throughout school she was badly bullied for being different. Teachers told her that she was ‘word-blind’ and ‘unteachable’. Gardner says about her spelling: ‘I had no idea what C-A-T spelled once the teacher took away the picture’. To this day she can’t spell the word ‘dyslexia’! After achieving five O-levels, Gardner went to art school where she ‘shot from the bottom to the top’. She then worked in costume design before moving into writing.

What is Sally Gardner most famous for?

This year Gardner accomplished a rare feat: two of her books (Double Shadow and Maggot Moon) were long listed for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. Maggot Moon has now made it onto the Carnegie shortlist, and also won the Costa Children’s Book Award for 2012. Many of her other novels have also won various prizes which you can read about here.

Why is Maggot Moon so special?

This is the story of an alternative Britain in the 1950s – a Britain that has lost the Second World War. Standish Treadwell lives in Zone 7, with his grandfather and the other ‘undesirables’, under the brutal dictatorship of the ‘Motherland’. His parents have been taken away and are presumed dead. When his best friend Hector goes missing, it is up to Standish to track him down. Standish, though, is an unusual hero: he is severely dyslexic. He sees the world differently to the others around him, and it is this gift that makes him just the right person to uncover the secrets and lies of the oppressive Motherland and show them to the world. Gardener’s prose is perfectly crafted: you can hear Standish’s individual voice in every sentence. Maggot Moon is also available as an audio book and a feature-filled iBook. You can experience samples of both here.

What does Sally Gardner say about dyslexia?

I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubik’s Cube: it takes time to work out how to deal with it but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift. The problem with dyslexia for many young people – and I can identify with this – is that their confidence is so damaged by the negativity of their teachers and their peers that it takes a very strong character to come out of the educational system smiling.Here are some videos of Gardner talking about Maggot Moon, dyslexia, and storytelling.

Who are some other dyslexic writers?

Other dyslexic writers and storytellers include Hans Christian Anderson, John Corrigan, Agatha Christie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gustave Flaubert, Natasha Solomons, and William Butler Yates. The full list can be found here.

So, what do you think? Will you be reading Maggot Moon? We couldn’t recommend it more, and, in our opinion, it definitely deserves the Carnegie Medal! You can also read more about Sally Gardner and her books on her website. All quotes in this article have been taken from

Avani Shah

30 May 2013
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