Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Unforgotten Coat

 by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Candlewick | 2011

Chingas and his brother Nergui are Mongolian and new at Julie O'Connor's school. Nobody is sure what to make of them, even the teacher. Chingas chooses Julie as a friend, and she is honored. She sets out to learn as much about Mongolia as humanly possible and tries to learn where in her English town the boys live. They come to her house, she ends up at their apartment one night, and then they go on an unplanned adventure on the train. One day, Julie comes to school and finds that the boys are gone--deported. And Chingas has left his coat behind, which bothers Julie.

The story is told by an adult Julie who is looking back on Year Six, the year she was the "Good Guide" for Chingas and Nergui. It ends with a pretty cool twist that's pleasing. Boyce's in-depth afterword provides context for the story that, no matter how you might feel about his motivations for writing the book, is interesting.
The author with Year Six kids.

 Read this one with your book club or with your child's book club. Talk about what it means to be different--or the same. Talk about safety and what that might mean. Or just enjoy a good story!

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