Refugee Week Book Blog: Do you speak chocolate? by Cas Lester

This is an English-language mid-grade novel that introduces year 7 pupil Jaz to a new classmate, Nadima, who has recently arrived with her family from Syria.

At first Nadima doesn’t speak any English and Jaz wonders how they are going to communicate. Enter the mobile phone and emojis. By using emojis of various items and a thumbs up or thumbs down, Nadima and Jaz are able to communicate. With a positive “like” to chocolate, Jaz shares her chocolate with Nadima and so the friendship is forged.

Over the course of the story, Jaz makes several attempts to “help” her new friend, most of which blow up in her face. Lester cleverly weaves into her story acts that we might be tempted to do to “help”, for example, raising money for a particular family because they are “poor”. She explains through her narrative that Nadima’s family don’t want charity, they are proud people who want a chance to be respected in their new home.

I thought this was a really insightful story to help youngsters understand how they can help their new peers and to explain how some of the things we might want to do are actually inappropriate.

For more World Kid Lit titles, you can also visit the World Kid Lit blog.

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