In the vein of timely titles such as Katherine Applegate's Wishtree and Alan Gratz's Refugee comes a touching, accessible middle-grade debut about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, as well as the life-changing power of friendship and standing as an ally.
There used to be an empty chair at the back of Mrs. Khan's classroom, but on the third Tuesday of the school year a new kid fills it: nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee. The whole class is curious about this new boy--he doesn't seem to smile, and he doesn't talk much. But after learning that Ahmet fled a Very Real War" and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates band together to concoct the Greatest Idea in the World--a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.
Balancing humor and heart, this relatable story about the refugee crisis from the perspective of kids highlights the community-changing potential of standing as an ally and reminds readers that everyone deserves a place to call home.
Overall Winner of the 2019 Waterstones Children's Book Prize Winner of the 2019 Blue Peter Book Award
"Tearjerking and chuckle-inducing. . . . Above all it celebrates the power of kindness." --The Sunday Post (Scotland)
"Inspiring and sweet. . . . 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." --BookTrust (UK)
"An engaging exploration of the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child." --Readings (Australia)
About the Author
Onjali Q. Raúf is the founder and CEO of Making HerStory, a UK nonprofit that works to fight human trafficking and gender-based abuses and crimes. She lives in the UK, and you can find her on Twitter at @OnjaliRauf. The Boy at the Back of the Class is her debut novel.
"This moving and timely debut novel tells an enlightening, empowering, and ultimately hopeful story about how compassion and a willingness to speak out can change the world.” —School Library Journal, Starred Review
"Political and cultural undertones are undeniably present in Rauf’s timely debut, but it’s the themes of kindness, empathy, and tenacity that resonate strongest. Rauf excels at tapping into the thoughts and concerns of contemporary children, providing wholly believable characters who use their voices to help others and create change, as well as offering a safe space for readers to explore and better understand the refugee crisis." —Publishers Weekly
"Tearjerking and chuckle-inducing . . . . Above all it celebrates the power of kindness." -- The Sunday Post (Scotland)
"Inspiring and sweet . . . 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."--Booktrust (UK)
"Us[ing] humour to tackle a challenging and timely subject . . . [this is] an engaging exploration of the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child."--Readings (AU)
"Raúf's touching debut could hardly be more topical . . . utterly delightful." --Mail on Sunday