Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Boy at the back of the Class by Anjali Q Raúf



The story is told by a naïve female narrator. She loves school, has some good friends and has a comfortable life with her mother. We learn that her father died in a car accident when she was six.  Her mother has to do two jobs to keep them fed, clothed and sheltered.  But she lives in a safe environment.   We also learn that her paternal grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.  

The new boy Ahmet arrives at school.  He does not speak English. The narrator and her three chums try to make him feel welcome.  Gradually he is able to respond to the offered friendship.

The children learn that it soon may not be possible for Ahmet’s parents to join him because the Border Agency will “close the gates” in a few days’ time.  They seek the Queen’s help and end up storming the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. This is seen by some as an act of terrorism!  

All comes good. Ahmet gradually learns English. His parents are found. They are all invited to Buckingham Palace to have tea with the Queen.

This isn’t without a struggle. Ahmet and his friends have to face Brendan-the Bully and some xenophobic adults, including one teacher at their school and a local MP.

There are good adults too: most of the teachers at the school, the greengrocer who finds the pomegranates and a kind taxi-driver.  We must not forget Her Majesty the Queen.  

Even though the protagonist is somewhat naïve, she realises that some people can’t help their first reaction to somebody who dresses differently and eats different food.  

There are materials at the end of the book that will be useful for teachers.   

This is in a normal blocked text and the book contains just a few simple drawings which are meant to be the work of the narrator.  The narrator may be a little too naïve for some maturer readers.

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