The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Raúf
The Boy at the Back of the Class is an engaging exploration of the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child. A group of students are determined to befriend the new boy in class, and when they learn he’s a ‘Refugee Kid’, they also decide that they’re going to help him, setting in motion a madcap and heartfelt adventure.
Author Onjali Q. Raúf is the founder and CEO of Making Herstory, an organisation which works to end the abuse and trafficking of women and girls. She brings her passion for social responsibility to this story which demonstrates the power of small actions to initiate larger change. In addition, Raúf initially conceals details about the book’s narrator (such as their name) which could be seen as a way for children to better imagine themselves into the story.
The Boy at the Back of the Class is reminiscent of Morris Gleitzman’s 1990 novel, Two Weeks with the Queen. It too uses humour to tackle a challenging and timely subject, and even features an attempted visit to the Queen! And while the story does contain sad and painful events, its emphasis on kindness and happy ending makes it a safe choice for sensitive readers. For ages 9-11.