In 2009, Jessica Kingsley Publishers released their very first colour picture book – The Red Beast, by K.I.Al-Ghani. This book went on to become a best seller with over 50,000 copies sold and has been translated into many languages. We’re pleased to have recently published the new, revised edition of The Red Beast, now accompanied by The Red Beast Anger Workbook created in collaboration with leading Autism expert, Sue Larkey.
The updated edition of The Red Beast is now inclusive of most children on the autism spectrum as well as many SEN children and helps them to depersonalise their anger through highly successful strategies embedded within gentle storytelling. It includes updated language and all-new illustrations and is now accompanied by an interactive workbook that helps autistic and SEN children identify anger triggers and develop self-regulation. The Red Beast Anger Workbook also provides clear adult guidance on the science of self-regulation and a wide range of activities, exercises, and plans that encourage interoceptive awareness. Both books brilliantly complement one another in order to nurture a sense of support and practical guidance for autistic and SEN children as well as the adults around them.
So, What’s the Difference?
The new updated version of The Red Beast is more inclusive – the original book was written for children with Asperger Syndrome – the new edition aims to reach most children on the Autism Spectrum. We know that the idea of a Red Beast is usually understood by children with Asperger’s, however, other children with Autism may take the metaphor quite literally and become distressed at the thought of a real beast inside of them. The addition of the sentence “Let’s imagine that. ………..“ at the start of the story means you can discuss the idea that the beast is not real – it is imaginary, pretend or make believe.
The new illustrations are more inclusive of typical children – so the child has a chance to see the behaviour of the angry boy in the playground from the perspective of their peers.
Character names have been changed to make them more gender neutral – So Danni & Charlie – instead of Rufus and John. The use of the name Rufus for an angry, red-haired boy – now seems very much a cliché – which may have been okay when the book was first written, but now we would see it as stereotypical and therefore not quite PC today.
I have listened to pupil voices.
When I take this book into schools many children dislike the picture of the Red Beast being caught in a net – they think it looks cruel and makes the adults seem aggressive and uncaring. In the new edition you can see Danni being led into school using gentle handling (Team Teach) – adult arms wrapped around his waist. We can also see poor Charlie being consoled.
Haitham – (the illustrator) – was very pleased to have been given the chance to make new illustrations – he produced the originals in 2004 and I think you will agree that the new edition illustrations are much clearer and more colourful than the original – though still retaining the simplicity a pencil crayon medium that children readily relate to and often copy.
Excitingly, we now have a companion book – The Red Beast Anger Workbook which relates to the character of Danni, in the new edition. This very practical workbook shows Danni coming to terms with the reasons for his angry outbursts and learning ways to control his Red Beast. Included are a number of black & white illustrations from the new edition that are excellent for discussion times – the children can colour them in as you talk about the content – very therapeutic.