As a charity running services supporting young carers nationwide, we’re always interested when art or culture reflects the experiences of the people we work with. This can come in any form but it is particularly useful when it helps to educate children and young people about the struggles some of their peers face. That’s why we’re delighted to publish a short conversation we had with author Helen Rutter where we discussed why she chose to make the star of her book “The Boy Whose Wishes Came True” a young carer.
Why did you decide to make Archie Crumb a young carer?
I did not set out to make Archie a young carer exactly. I used some of my experiences of growing up with a mum with ME and depression and then it turned out that Archie became a young carer during the writing process! Growing up I would never have described myself as a carer, and neither would Archie, so I think it’s really interesting I wrote about that subject without initially intending to. I wonder how many kids there are out there who would not see themselves as having a caring role but who have a lot of responsibilities that would put them into that bracket?
What are you hoping children who read The Boy Whose Wishes Came True will learn from the book?
It’s a book about hope, positivity and asking for help. I think books should be enjoyable, so if children like the book enough to finish it then that’s my job done; if they learn anything along the way about empathy, young carers or poverty then that’s a bonus.
“It’s a book about hope, positivity and asking for help … if children learn anything along the way about empathy, young carers or poverty then that’s a bonus.”
What do you believe are the biggest challenges which young carers face?
I think it’s hard to ask for help if you don’t know there is help available to you. Especially if you don’t even know you deserve that help. Archie goes on a journey that allows him to understand this and I think young carers need to feel supported and seen so it becomes easier to talk and ask for help.
Do you think that young carers are represented enough in children’s fiction and, if not, why do you think this is?
I think there is more and more understanding of this as an issue and that will filter through into fiction. I know Lisa Thompson has a new book that also deals with some of these issues and so I think it could be a good time for representation.
What’s your favourite aspect of the book?
I love how, through his wishes, Archie can access his childish and playful side. It allows him to feel all the joy and excitement of childhood again which allows him to see his situation and himself more clearly. I love a mix of humour and heart in books I read and so that’s what I try to create in my own stories.
The Boy Whose Wishes Came True by Helen Rutter is out now, published by Scholastic.
If you think you might be a young carer, or know someone who might be, why not take a look at our page regarding our young carers’ services to help you with accessing support.