Books about Friendship and Difference

 

Good Books for Tough Times 9-12 - FRIENDSHIP AND DIFFERENCE


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Me Shelter

Editor Tony Bradman
Reading age 8+
Interest level 9+

Review This is a collection of stories by different authors, all getting under the skin of children forced to seek asylum in London or elsewhere.  The stories of refugees from the Congo, Eritrea, Iraq, Kurdistan, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Kosovo, Zimbabwe, Somalia and Sudan are poignant, shocking and heartwarming.

These stories will appeal both to those who may have undergone a similar journey, and those who want to understand the experience of children forced to find safety in a foreign land.

Publisher Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Published 2009
Price £6.99
ISBN 9781847800022

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The Secret Garden

Author Frances Hodgson Burnett
Reading age 8+
Interest level 8+

Review First published in 1911, this children’s classic recounts a tale that may seem far from the lives of today’s youngsters, with its grand manor house with over 100 rooms, and small children attended by a large cast of servants.  However, many will identify with the loneliness of ‘a hard, little, unloving girl and a sickly boy who believed he was going to die’. 

This is both a gripping story, full of mystery and suspense, and an optimistic tale of how children, damaged both physically and mentally, can be healed by the power of nature and human goodness.

Publisher Puffin Classics
Published 2008
Price £7.99
ISBN 9780141321066

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Because of Winn-Dixie

Author Kate DiCamillo
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review India Opal Buloni is lonely.  She and her dad (the preacher) have moved to a new town, where she doesn’t know anyone, and it makes her miss her mum (who left when Opal was three) even more.  But all that changes the day that Opal goes to the grocery store and comes back with a stray dog. 

Winn-Dixie is big and smelly, but he has a very appealing smile. 
His winning ways help Opal to make friends, and bring Opal and her dad – and a surprising group of people – together.

Publisher Walker Books
Published 2001
Price £4.99
ISBN 9780744578294

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Abela

Author Berlie Doherty
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Abela and Rosa have very different lives.  Abela lives in a village in Tanzania where disease and death are part of life, Rosa enjoys a cosy life with her Mum in Sheffield, with trips to the skating rink the highlight of her week. 

But both girls face the shock of change – Rosa’s mum wants to adopt another child, and Abela is uprooted from everything she’s ever known and sent to England by her unscrupulous Uncle Thomas.  Both girls face disruption and disappointment until their lives finally come together.  This is a highly readable and ultimately uplifting story.

Publisher Andersen Press
Published 2007
Price £5.99
ISBN 9781842707258

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Tall Story

Author Candy Gourlay
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Andi gets a giant shock when her half-brother Bernardo steps off a plane from the Philippines – he’s eight feet tall! 

Other children mock him as a clumsy giant who can speak only broken English.  But Andi gradually learns that Bernardo has a remarkable story to tell – and some people even think he has magic powers.

This is a story of how family, friendship and a shared love of basketball can overcome prejudice, and a reminder that people are not always what they seem.

Publisher David Fickling Books
Published 2010
Price £5.99
ISBN 9781849920391

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Hurricane Wills

Author Sally Grindley
Reading age 9+
Interest level 10+

Review Chris’s older brother Wills has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and crash, bang, wallops through the house like a hurricane. 

When Dad moves out, things get even worse, and Chris retreats to the public library for some privacy – until Wills’s nasty friends track him down and events spiral out of control. 

This is a good insight into the tensions of living with someone who has ADD, as Chris tries to be himself, support his Mum, spend time with his Dad, and still be the supportive brother that Wills needs.

Publisher Bloomsbury
Published 2006
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780747590958

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The Garbage King

Author Elizabeth Laird
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review This excellent novel, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and winner of the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award, is set in Ethiopia.  It follows the story of two boys from opposite ends of the social spectrum, who both end up on the streets of the capital, Addis Ababa. Wealthy, spoilt Dani is running away from a tyrannical father, while plucky orphan Mamo is escaping a life of slave labour. 

The author doesn’t shrink from describing some of the harsh realities of Ethiopian poverty, but this is ultimately a positive and inspiring read.

Publisher Macmillan Children's Books
Published 2003
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780330415026

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Secret Friends

Author Elizabeth Laird
Illustrator Jason Cockcroft
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review Rafaella comes from another country, has big ears and seems quiet and aloof.  

The girls at her new school make her life pretty miserable – all except Lucy.  She is Rafaella’s secret friend, ignoring her at school, but visiting her at home and getting to know her family.  Lucy buys her a Christmas present, but when school resumes after the holiday Rafaella is not there.  The secret friendship has ended in tragedy. 

This deceptively short and simple story is beautifully written and illustrated, and infused with warmth and honesty.

Publisher Hodder Children’s Books
Published 1997
Price £3.99
ISBN 9780340664735

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Shadow

Author Michael Morpurgo
Illustrator Christian Birmingham
Reading age 10+
Interest level 10+

Review Aman and his mother escape from Taliban brutality in Afghanistan, build a new life for themselves in Manchester, and are then seized in a dawn raid by immigration officials and told they’ll be sent back to Afghanistan.

Shadow is an army sniffer dog, a faithful spaniel who accompanies (or leads?) them on the first stage of their journey.

This is a story of injustice, friendship and the importance of standing up for what you believe in, even when all seems lost.  It’s an enthralling read and the illustrations are few but beautiful.

Publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books
Published 2010
Price £12.99
ISBN 9780007339594

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There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom

Author Louis Sachar
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review Bradley Chalkers is the only boy in the class who has never been given a gold star.  He doesn’t do his homework, tells outrageous lies and is rude to just about everyone.  No wonder his classmates poke fun and bully him. 

Things go from bad to worse, until a new school counsellor appreciates Bradley and gives him the confidence to change. 

Ignore the misleading title – this is a funny, touching story that will resonate with younger children who may be feeling isolated.

Publisher Bloomsbury
Published 2007
Price £5.99
ISBN 9780747589525

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The Boy in the Dress

Author David Walliams 
Illustrator Quentin Blake
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review In most respects, Dennis is like many other boys. He lives in a boring house in a boring town with his Dad and brother, and plays football for the school team. But Dennis has another secret passion – he loves reading Vogue.  When Lisa, the cool girl at school, suggests he try on one of her dresses, it sets off a hilarious chain of events that culminates in a school football match like no other... 

This appealing comic tale will have the reader laughing out loud, while it celebrates the right of everyone to be themselves.

Publisher HarperCollins Children’s Books
Published 2008
Price £6.99
ISBN 9780007279043

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Refugee Boy

Author Benjamin Zephaniah
Reading age 9+
Interest level 9+

Review Alem’s father is Ethiopian and his mother Eritrean, and they’re caught between both sides while the countries are at war. The gripping narrative follows Alem as he becomes a refugee in England, is taken into foster care and starts school.  However, even while he adjusts to his new way of life, he cannot escape the conflict and tragedy of his divided country. 

This is a touching and thought-provoking book; as the author himself says, ‘I would like to know that anyone who reads the book would think before they accuse refugees of looking for a free ride.’

Publisher Bloomsbury
Published 2001
Price £6.99
ISBN 9780747550860

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