The Boy at the Back of the Class
Author: Onjali Q Raúf
This is the story about how one ordinary nine-year-old child and three classmates are full of empathy for Ahmet, a boy that comes to their school as a refugee from Syria (he is the boy at the back of the class).
Through their sensitivity, curiosity, ingenuity, bravery and innocent niceness, they make a massive impact on Ahmet’s life, friends, class, school, community and wider world. There’s a lovely lack of stereotyping on gender and backstory for the narrator, which adds to the message of not judging people before you know them.
An inspiring and sweet tale that will help children think about what it is to be a good person whatever your circumstances (the narrator is from a poor background with a single parent mum who struggles to make ends meet), and challenge prejudice and push for fairness, whenever possible.
This is a beautiful, open-hearted debut from Onjali Q Raúf that should help children be the best they can be and realise the power of kindness.
The Clockwork Crow
Orphan Seren Rhys has been sent to live with her mysterious Godfather after living for 12 years in an orphanage. The possibility of her first happy family Christmas seems like it might finally be within her reach.
On her solo journey to Wales, Seren is given a mysterious package to look after by a stranger and ends up feeling obliged to take it with her. But when she arrives in Wales, her Godfather and family are not in residence and she’s left with a bunch of dour servants who seem to be hiding something. It’s all very mysterious and somewhat creepy, and when she finds an enigmatic talking clockwork crow within the package, that only serves to make it weirder!
Together, they set off to solve the riddle of Plas-y-Fran, facing many perils and challenges as they go.
The Clockwork Crow is a perfectly pitched middle grade story that doesn’t put a foot wrong. Seren is a spunky, brave and determined heroine and this book is completely gripping from first page to last, poetic without being difficult to read. Catherine Fisher is a wonderfully accomplished writer. This is a highly recommended story.
The House With Chicken Legs
Every night is party night at Marinka’s house. There’s food, drink, music and lively conversation… But all the guests are dead.
Marinka’s grandmother is a Yaga, someone who guides the recently dead through The Gate so they can make their way back to the stars they came from. Marinka is expected to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps but she is desperate for a normal life, where she can make friends with the living. But can she really change her destiny or is her fate predetermined and unalterable?
Loosely based on the Slavic myth of Baba Yaga, Marinka’s story is magical, delightfully macabre and utterly engrossing. Skilful storytelling reimagines ancient folklore while addressing issues such as bullying, bereavement and taking control of your future, which will resonate with many young people.