Popsugar Reading Challenge 2021 Book 42

Prompt: A Book by a British Muslim Writer

I had a few books on my TBR that would have fitted this prompt. Some I must admit have sat there for far too long. The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf is a book that I have wanted to read for ages. I have heard so many good things about and lots of the students teachers I teach have read and recommended it. As we head into December and there still quite a few prompts left to tick off, short books are a bonus and Middle Grade is perfect reading. Great stories and brilliant characters but nice fast paced action that grabs your attention and holds it.

What it’s about?

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it.

He’s eight years old (just like me), but he’s very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn’t like sweets – not even lemon sherbets, which are my favorite!

But the truth is, Ahmet really isn’t very strange at all. He’s a refugee who’s run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to be his friend.

That’s where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we’ve come up with a plan.

What I think:

This is such a great book. And one that I would recommend that adults read.

While it is middle grade fiction and makes the topic of refugees and bullying accessible for young readers, there is much to take away from the book.

Ahmet is a not a statistic or a nameless, faceless illegal immigrant to be demonised. He is a real person. A young boy with a traumatic story. A young boy who wants to make friends and play football.

Josie and her friends are kind and thoughful and inquisitive. They ask questions and get to know the boy behind the headlines. A boy whose family wanted a better life for their children and have paid a terrible price.

The book illustrates the sad impact that parents ciews can have on children as anti-immigration rhetoric turns into playground bullying.

The children in this book are often far more accepting and empathetic than their parents.

I like how this book educates but doesn’t preach. It makes important points in gentle and humorous way. There is something incredibly British about the book.

A wonderful story.

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