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The Boy At the Back of the Class

Written by Onjali Q. Raúf

Illustrated by Pippa Curnick

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The Boy At the Back of the Class Review

Featured Books for 7+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Star Books

Touching and clear-sighted child’s-eye view of the problems facing refugees

Chosen by Cressida Cowell, Guest Editor May 2020 | Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020 | Shortlisted for The Branford Boase Award 2019 | Winner the Blue Peter Book Awards 2019, Best Story category

The arrival of a new boy in class sparks a funny, moving and quietly powerful story for young readers. Our narrator – we only discover her name in the last chapter – is immediately intrigued by her new classmate, who doesn’t speak, or smile, and disappears at break times. She’s determined to become his friend and as she gets to know him learns that Ahmet is a refugee from Syria. Finding out that his family are lost somewhere in Europe she decides to help – something that exposes both the prejudice and generosity of those around her. The plotline is very lively – it includes some excellent comic scenes at Buckingham Palace – and Raúf manages to keep the story positive and uplifting while still illustrating the cruelty and bigotry that refugees face.

Our Guest Editor, Cressida Cowell said, "This is a lovely, warm book that is all about kindness, and putting yourself into someone else’s shoes."


Also chosen as a recommended read by our Guest Editor, Konnie Huq, April 2021;   A really lovely, moving book about a refugee boy that comes to the uk. Fab for understanding the plights and lives of others.


Andrea Reece

Other Info

Discussing the Blue Peter award Onjali Q Raúf said:  'What a wonderful, surreal and truly epic honour it is to win this wonderful award! I can hardly believe that my childhood dream of owning a Blue Peter badge one day has come true in the most unexpected way possible! I am utterly bowled over by the love and support The Boy at the Back of the Class has received not just from the marvellous Blue Peter Judges, but all the children who voted for its place as a winning title this year – thank you.'


Find out more about the UKLA Book Awards here

The Boy At the Back of the Class Synopsis

There used to be an empty chair at the back of my class, but now a new boy called Ahmet is sitting in it. He's nine years old (just like me), but he's very strange. He never talks and never smiles and doesn't like sweets - not even lemon sherbets, which are my favourite! But then I learned the truth: Ahmet really isn't very strange at all. He's a refugee who's run away from a War. A real one. With bombs and fires and bullies that hurt people. And the more I find out about him, the more I want to help. That's where my best friends Josie, Michael and Tom come in. Because you see, together we've come up with a plan. . . With beautiful illustrations by Pippa Curnick

The Boy At the Back of the Class Press Reviews

Raul's book is at once tearjerking and chuckle-inducing and will go a long way to restore faith in human nature. - Sunday Post

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781510105010
Publication date: 10/07/2018
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781510105010
Publication date: 10th July 2018
Author: Onjali Q. Raúf
Illustrator: Pippa Curnick
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 320 pages
Suitable for: 7+ readers, 9+ readers
Recommendations: Star Books
Collections: Refugees - 40 books to raise awareness,

About Onjali Q. Raúf

Onjali Q. Raúf is the founder of Making Herstory an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. In her spare time she delivers emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk, and supports interfaith projects. Her first novel, The Boy at the Back of the Class, won the Waterstone's Children's Prize and The Blue Peter Award.

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