A six-year-old girl who braved four face grafts after a petrol bomb was hurled into a Birmingham shop six months ago has returned to school.

Shae Thomas was engulfed in flames when the homemade device was thrown into the TK Maxx store at the One Stop shopping mall in Perry Barr on August 27.

Shae, who now wears a mask and body suit, could not open her swollen eyes or lips because of her injuries. She was connected to a life support machine and has spent the last six months in and out of hospital.

The youngster, from Bristol, was visiting relatives in Birmingham when she suffered the horrific burns.

Shae's mother, Cherra Johnson, who also suffered minor burns, said: "Shae was very shy in the playground at first, but she also craved the companionship of her peers and was happy to be back.

"I believe that, even if she is not totally ready, school will be good for her because it may reintroduce a degree of normality to her life."

Shae will attend school for a morning a week. She cannot play sport and has to hold her left arm in a splint in mid-air, but is able to take part in her favourite subject - painting.

Her father, Delroy, aged 27, said: "A lot of the kids were really lovely and kind to her. They have now got used to the fact that she wears a clear mask to keep the face grafts flat and a body suit covering her arms."

Cherra, aged 27, said: "It is still early days. Her recovery will take years, perhaps forever. The psychological effects of being engulfed in flames so suddenly for someone her age cannot be underestimated."

Shae sees consultants, physiotherapists and psychologists three to four times a week at Bristol Children's Hospital, and although the raw skin on her neck, arms and face is healing, she often has nightmares. Cherra said: "She doesn't talk about the explosion, it seems she can't yet." Cherra has given up her job as a beauty therapist to look after Shae.

"The pause button has been pressed on our lives for the next four years, but we are prepared for that. She has many people around her who love her and by the time she is eight I believe we will have our little girl back again.

"I still can't believe what happened six months ago. But if I continue to think about it, I think I will break down so I just try to carry on as normally as possible."