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A World Book Day 2020 Author


Told with heart and humour, The Boy at the Back of the Class is a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, highlighting the importance of friendship and kindness in a world that doesn’t always make sense.

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


Raul's book is at once tearjerking and chuckle-inducing and will go a long way to restore faith in human nature.
Sunday Post
Onjali Raúf's debut, The Boy at the Back of the Class (Orion), illustrated by Pippa Curnick, offers a child's eye view and an ambitious, adventure-filled plot. When a new boy is introduced at school, no one is exactly sure where he has come from; what is a "refugee kid", anyway, and how can Ahmet be helped to feel that he belongs? Though the narrator's voice is overly young at times, this is a lovely, warm-hearted first novel, a celebration of courage and friendship leavened with mischief.
The Guardian
Rauf's touching debut could hardly be more topical. Syrian refugee Ahmet is struggling to adapt to his new life in London, until our nine-year-old narrator and friends come up with a very clever plan to reunite him with his lost family. Utterly delightful, Rauf's book centres on the importance of friendship and encourages children not to fear those who are different'.
The Mail On Sunday
Bravely tackling the difficult issue of refugees, The Boy At The Back of The Class is about a Syrian refugee arriving in a class in the UK that shows us how children can sometimes get it so much better than adults.
Angels & Urchins
This is a powerful story about friendship and kindness.
Family Traveller
This book's greatest strength is how it conveys the motive nature of its main theme (the refugee crisis) in a way that opens up conversations instead of shutting them down. 'The Boy At The Back of The Class' is not only a well-written book that begs the reader to keep reading, but also one that opens up a dialogue that we need to be having with our young people.