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My name is Leon [text (large print)]/ Kit de Waal.

By: De Waal, Kit [author.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: Leicester : Thorpe, 2017Copyright date: ©2012Edition: Large print edition.Description: 335 pages (large print) ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781444832082; 1444832085.Subject(s): Brothers -- Fiction | Ex-foster children -- Fiction | Racially mixed families -- Fiction | Adoption -- FictionGenre/Form: Domestic fiction. | Large type books.Online resources: Click here to access online Summary: 1980: Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like chocolate bars, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum...
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Large Print DEWA 1 Checked out 24/08/2020

1980: Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like chocolate bars, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum...


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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

My Name is Leon 1 April 2, 1980 No one has to tell Leon that this is a special moment. Everything else in the hospital seems to have gone quiet and disappeared. The nurse makes him wash his hands and sit up straight. "Careful, now," she says. "He's very precious." But Leon already knows. The nurse places the brand-new baby in his arms with its face toward Leon so that they can look at each other. "You have a brother now," she says. "And you'll be able to look after him. What are you? Ten?" "He's nearly nine," says Leon's mom, looking over. "Eight years and nine months. Nearly." Leon's mom is talking to Tina about when the baby was coming out, about the hours and the minutes and the pain. "Well," says the nurse, adjusting the baby's blanket, "you're nice and big for your age. A right little man." She pats Leon on his head and brushes the side of his cheek with her finger. "He's a beauty, isn't he? Both of you are." She smiles at Leon and he knows that she's kind and that she'll look after the baby when he isn't there. The baby has the smallest fingers Leon has ever seen. He looks like a doll with its eyes closed. He has silky white hair on the very top of his head and a tiny pair of lips that keep opening and closing. Through the holey blanket, Leon can feel baby warmth on his belly and his legs and then the baby begins to wriggle. "I hope you're having a nice dream, baby," Leon whispers. After a while, Leon's arm begins to hurt and just when it gets really bad the nurse comes along. She picks the baby up and tries to give him to Leon's mom. "He'll need feeding soon," she says. But Leon's mom has her handbag on her lap. "Can I do it in a minute? Sorry, I was just going to the smoking room." She moves off the bed carefully, holding on to Tina's arm, and shuffles away. "Leon, you watch him, love," she says, hobbling off. Leon watches the nurse watching his mother walk away but when she looks at Leon she's smiling again. "I tell you what we'll do," she says, placing the baby in the crib next to the bed. "You stay here and have a little chat with your brother and tell him all about yourself. But when your mommy comes back it will be time for his feed and you'll have to get on home. All right, sweetheart?" Leon nods. "Shall I wash my hands again?" he asks, showing her his palms. "I think you'll be all right. You just stand here and if he starts crying, you come and fetch me. Okay?" "Yes." Leon makes a list in his head and then starts at the beginning. "My name is Leon and my birthday is on the fifth of July, nineteen seventy-one. Your birthday is today. School's all right but you have to go nearly every day and Miss Sheldon won't let proper soccer balls in the playground. Nor bikes but I'm too tall for mine anyway. I've got two Easter eggs and there's toys inside one of them. I don't think you can have chocolate yet. The best program is The Dukes of Hazzard but there are baby programs as well. I don't watch them anymore. Mom says you can't sleep in my room till you're older, about three, she said. She's bought you a shopping basket with a cloth in it for your bed. She says it's the same basket Moses had but it looks new. My dad had a car with no roof and he took me for a drive in it once. But then he sold it." Leon doesn't know what to say about the baby's dad because he has never seen him, so he talks about their mother. "You can call her Carol if you like, when you can talk. You probably don't know but she's beautiful. Everyone's always saying it. I think you look like her. I don't. I look like my dad. Mom says he's colored but Dad says he's black but they're both wrong because he's dark brown and I'm light brown. I'll teach you your colors and your numbers because I'm the cleverest in my class. You have to use your fingers in the beginning." Leon carefully feels the downy fluff on the baby's head. "You've got blond hair and she's got blond hair. We've both got thin eyebrows and we've both got long fingers. Look." Leon holds his hand up. And the baby opens his eyes. They are a dusty blue with a deep black center, like a big period. The baby blinks slowly and makes little kissing noises with his mouth. "Sometimes she takes me to Auntie Tina up on the next landing. I can walk up to Auntie Tina's on my own but if you come, I'll have to carry you in the basket." The baby won't be able to speak until it's much bigger so Leon just carries on. "I won't drop you," he says. "I'm big for my age." He watches the baby blowing him kisses and leans into the crib and touches the baby's lips with his fingertip. His mom and Tina and the nurse come back all at the same time. Leon's mom comes straight over to the crib and puts her arm round Leon. She kisses his cheek and his forehead. "Two boys," she says. "I've got two beautiful, beautiful boys." Leon puts his arms round his mom's waist. She's still got a round belly like the baby was still in there and she smells different. Or maybe it's just the hospital. All the babyness made Leon's mom puffed out and red in the face and now she's near back to being herself again. Everything except the belly. He carefully touches his mother through her flowery nightie. "Are there any more in there?" he says. The nurse and Tina and his mom all laugh at the same time. "That's men for you," says the nurse. "All charm." But Leon's mom bends down and puts her face close to Leon. "No more," she says. "Just me and you and him. Always." Tina puts her coat on and leaves ten cigarettes on the bed for Carol to have later. "Thanks, Tina," she says, "and thanks for having Leon again. Think I'll be out on Tuesday by the sound of it." Carol shuffles up in the bed and the nurse puts the baby in her arms. He is making little breathing noises that sound like the beginning of a cry. Leon's mom begins to unfasten her cardigan. "Isn't he lovely, Leon? You be good, all right?" and she kisses him again. The whole of the baby's head fits into her hand. "Come to Mommy," she whispers and cradles him against her chest. Tina's flat is very different from Leon's but it's exactly the same as well. Both maisonettes have two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and a kitchen and living room downstairs. Leon's house is on the ground floor of the first block by the divided highway and Tina's house is up on the next landing. The roadway has three rows of traffic on each side and the cars go so fast that they put a barrier up by the sidewalk. Now if Leon and Carol want to cross the road, they have to walk for ages to go to a crossing and press a button and wait until it starts to beep. The first time it was exciting but now it just makes it take longer to get to school in the morning. Tina lets Leon sleep in the same bedroom as her baby. She always makes a bouncy, comfortable bed when Leon stays. She takes two cushions off the sofa and then wraps them in a blanket and puts a little baby's quilt over him. When he is lying down she throws some coats on top and covers everything over with a bedspread. It's like a nest or a den because no one would know he was there, like camouflage in the jungle. His bed looks like a pile of clothes in the corner but then "AAAGGGH," there is a monster underneath and it jumps up and kills you. Tina always leaves the light on in the hall but tells him he has to be very quiet because of her baby. Her baby is big and wobbly and his name suits him. Bobby. Wobbly Bobby. His head is too big for his body and when Leon plays with him, he always gets some of Bobby's dribble on his hand. Bobby's Wobbly Dribble. Leon's brother won't be like Bobby and just suck on his plastic toys all day and get his bib soaking wet. He won't topple over on the sofa under the weight of his big head and just stay there till someone moves him. Leon always sits Bobby up but then Bobby thinks it's a game and keeps on doing it. Bobby loves Leon. He can't talk and, anyway, he always has a pacifier in his mouth but as soon as Leon walks in the door, Bobby wobbles across the carpet and holds Leon's legs. Then he puts out his arms for Leon to pick him up. When Leon's brother is older they're going to play together, soldiers and Action Man. They're going to both have machine guns and run all over the house shooting at targets. Bobby can watch. Tina's house always has a window open and smells of baby lotion. Tina looks a bit like a baby herself because she's got a round face with puffy cheeks and round eyes that bulge. She makes her hair different colors all the time but she's never happy with it and Carol keeps telling her to go blond. Tina always says, "If I had your face, Carol, it wouldn't matter so much," and Leon thinks she's right. Tina has a leather sofa that is cold and slippery on Leon's legs and a sheepskin rug in front of the gas fire and a massive TV. She doesn't let Leon call her "Tina," like he calls his mom "Carol." He has to call her "Auntie Tina" and he has to call Carol "Mom" because she says children have to have respect. And she doesn't let Leon eat in front of the TV. He has to sit at a wooden table in the kitchen where there isn't much room because she has a big fridge-freezer with ice cream in it. Bobby sits in his high chair smiling at Leon and Tina puts two scoops in Leon's bowl and one for Bobby. Leon's brother will probably only get half a scoop because he'll be the smallest. Sometimes, Tina's boyfriend comes, but when he sees Leon he always says, "Again?" and Tina says, "I know." Excerpted from My Name Is Leon by Kit de Waal All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Booklist Review

Nine-year-old Leon, the son of a black father and a white mother in 1970s London, can't catch a break. His dad leaves when his mom, Carol, is expecting another baby with a white man. Beset with severe psychological issues and barely able to feed her children, Carol abandons them, leaving Leon to care for his infant brother, Jake, until Social Services takes over. The brothers are separated, and white Jake gets adopted, while mixed-race Leon is taken in by a loving old lady, Maureen, until her illness precipitates his move to live with her sister. De Waal's debut novel is exemplary in its portrayal of tender Leon, and his child's worldview of tragic events adds pathos to trying circumstances. Struggling to find support wherever he can, Leon even relies on a ragtag group of locals who tend a nearby community garden. Leon's situation feels unrelentingly bleak, making the story a tad too monochromatic. Nevertheless, this moving exploration of race and the foster-care system offers precious insight into the mind of a child forced to grow up well before his time.--Apte, Poornima Copyright 2016 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

When crushing mental illness sends a single mother to the hospital, her young sons become entangled in Britain's bureaucratic foster care system. Leon is just 8 when his mom, Carol, is taken by ambulance to the local psych ward. He'd been trying to care for Jake, his newborn brother, himself, making the baby's formula, changing his diaper, and attempting to rouse his mother from the drug-addled stupor she'd been in for days or maybe weeks. But when a concerned neighbor stops by and sees the condition of the flat, both boys are sent to Social Services and Carol is involuntarily committed. As narrated by Leon, the story gives readers a child's-eye perspective on family and addresses the impact of placement on everyone involved. In addition, since Leon is biracial and Jake is white, racial politics come into sharp focus. Once Jake is adopted and the brothers are separated, Leon experiences the resentment, pain, and fury that come from feeling unwanted, and his inevitable acting-out brings him dangerously close to trouble. At the same time, the kindness of strangersamong them his doting white foster mother, Maureen; her sister, Sylvia; and a multiracial group of cantankerous gardeners who grow flowers, fruit, and vegetables in a small community gardenallows Leon to develop a sense of self and take tentative first steps toward independence. Multiple secondary themes, among them learning to trust others, accepting limitations, and confronting what it means to be a person of color in a racist society, are also plumbed. Set in the 1970s, the novel further references actual events including the death of hunger-striking Irish prisoners and the riots that followed the police murder of a Caribbean activist. Taut, emotionally intense, and wholly believable, this beautiful and uplifting debut gives readers a hero to champion. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.