Raul's book is at once tearjerking and chuckle-inducing and will go a long way to restore faith in human nature.
Onjali Raúf's debut, The Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion), illustrated by Pippa Curnick, offers a child's eye view and an ambitious, adventure-filled plot. When a new boy is introduced at school, no one is exactly sure where he has come from; what is a "refugee kid", anyway, and how can Ahmet be helped to feel that he belongs? Though the narrator's voice is overly young at times, this is a lovely, warm-hearted first novel, a celebration of courage and friendship leavened with mischief.
Rauf's touching debut could hardly be more topical. Syrian refugee Ahmet is struggling to adapt to his new life in London, until our nine-year-old narrator and friends come up with a very clever plan to reunite him with his lost family. Utterly delightful, Rauf's book centres on the importance of friendship and encourages children not to fear those who are different'.
Bravely tackling the difficult issue of refugees, The Boy At The Back of The Class is about a Syrian refugee arriving in a class in the UK that shows us how children can sometimes get it so much better than adults.
This is a powerful story about friendship and kindness.
This book's greatest strength is how it conveys the motive nature of its main theme (the refugee crisis) in a way that opens up conversations instead of shutting them down. 'The Boy At The Back of The Class' is not only a well-written book that begs the reader to keep reading, but also one that opens up a dialogue that we need to be having with our young people.