Kathy Hoopman and Mike Medaglia, Blue Bottle Mystery: An Asperger Adventure, illustrated by Rachael Smith

Jessica Kingsley, 2015, ISBN 978-1-84905-650-2

Blue Bottle Mystery first appeared over a decade ago as a short novel. This is a graphic novel adaptation, with Kathy Hoopman's original text adapted by Mike Medaglia, and with illustrations by Rachael Smith. As the strapline suggests, there is a strong Asperger theme. Ben finds life hard at school and at home. Despite trying to please, he manages to infuriate his teacher and his father on a regular basis. He misunderstands language, rules and conventions. With one notable exception, his friend Andy, his fellow students have no sympathy or liking for him, and he's a victim of frequent bullying.

Things gradually start to improve when Ben and Andy find a blue bottle, and on the off chance that it's a bottle with a genie, make wishes. Ben and his father win the lottery. But some of the results of their wishes aren't quite as they anticipated, and they have to work out how to stop possible unfortunate events.

Meanwhile Ben's grandmother and his father (his mother died when he was little) realise that he perhaps needs help. His father in particular finds the diagnosis of Asperger's hard to take on board. Gradually all the people close to him, and Ben himself, learn more about his condition, and how to make things easier for him. He even starts to accept change. Readers will come away with a valuable understanding of Asperger's, both through the text and the very clear illustrations. The story is at times laboured due to something of an overload of information.