So this book is a little unique in that it is two stories, and The Great Food Bank Heist, one of the stories, has already been published, and the other story is a bit of an epilogue to The Boy at the Back of the Class. So, I’m just going to review the first story in the book, The Day We Met the Queen, and while you probably can get away with not reading The Boy at the Back of the Class first, I wouldn’t want you to. It is such a good book and you really should read it, everyone should. Yes, it is that good. So back to The Day We Met the Queen, the first story in the upcoming middle grade 176 page book, about refugees and kids making a difference.
This charming story shows what happens to Alexa and Ahmet and the whole crew as they prepare to met the Queen for tea. The group of friends is about to show the entire school their invitations and share the two questions each that they plan to ask the monarch, the list was 52 questions, but because the Queen is nearly 100 years old, they have been advised to shorten the list. On the day of the assembly news crews are present and Brenden-the-Bully is acting a little strange, as Ahmet starts talking the auditorium erupts with stink bombs and everyone leaves running. The kids think it is just the bully striking again, but the gossip at the school and reports on the news imply it might be more than that, and the kids might not make it to the Queen’s tea after all.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I love getting some closure on the story, while simultaneously showing that refugee treatment and rights is not a thing yet resolved. The idea of the Queen being at the center of the book definitely adds to the coincidental timeliness of it all, but that she is easy going and relatable to the children is still the takeaway whether you were a fan of the real Queen or not. I love the voice of the protagonist and the relatability that her concerns are with the target audience. I particularly enjoy the critique about the media and the clarity in which the children understand the flaws and limitations of what they are told in the news both on the school level and on a global stage. There isn’t anything Islamic in the text, Ahment is Muslim, as is the author.
Hate speech, deception, bullying
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
I don’t think there is an author that brings big real issues to children’s stories as well or as consistently as Onjali Rauf. Both stories in this book should be shared with middle grade readers and up to be discussed, reflected upon, and learned from as often as possible. You can preorder your copy here: https://amzn.to/3Eq2G4M