Sunday, 21 April 2019

The Boy at the Back of the Class - Onjali Q Rauf

   The author of this children's book, aimed at readers 8 - 12 years or a little younger if read aloud, is a supporter of refugees seeking asylum in the UK.   She's also the founder of Making Herstory, an organisation which encourages men, women and children to work together to create a fairer and more equal world for women and girls everywhere.

It's a clever book. The boy at the back of the class is a refugee, and when he first arrives, the kids at school don't really know what a refugee is. He can't even speak English, and disappears every lunch time.  Why?  And that shabby backpack... why is he hanging on to that?  All gets explained during the course of the book.

He can't join in with lessons yet, due to his lack of English, but he has his own translator, and as the days and weeks go on, he begins to understand more.   Alexa, who is telling the story  and her three best friends are desperate to make him feel at home, and make him a friend too, and gradually he begins to trust them. The school bully is xenaphobic even though he probably doesn't know what it means, and that's just one of the difficulties the friends have to help him deal with.  Then, on the day he finds a way to tell them what happened to his family, they begin to work on a way to help.   It's going to get them into a lot of trouble but it has to be done.  Funny and sad by turns.       

There are pages of information at the back, and some quizes too for the younger reader.   I loved the cover, too.

Recommended.



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