Archives for category: Elizabeth Laird

.Image result for The boy at the back of the class

Published by Orion

‘So…I’m scary? Just because I look different?’

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be confronted, others are not so easily dealt with. Some of the largest bullies in the world are those with the greatest power, who abuse that power, and abuse people, with the result that there are over 6.5 million refugees trying to escape.

This is a story about one of them. This is the story of Ahmet who arrives at school in the middle of the term and takes the last seat at the back of the class.

He’s nine.

This is an extraordinarily moving account of friendship, bravery and hope. It is the story of a small group of children wanting to do the right thing – against all the odds. Their naivety – a belief that in the end all will be well, if they can just make sure everyone know, that the adults out there, would do the right thing too, lends the story a piquancy that wouldn’t otherwise be there, which colours the story.

The book is illustrated sensitively and touchingly by Pippa Curnick – and her pictures add their own bit of seasoning to this extraordinary book.

‘Sometimes all you really need is somewhere to cry without anyone ever knowing.’

This is a story of hope.

Part of the royalties of this book will go to aid refugees.

It should be read along side Elizabeth Laird’s Welcome to Nowhere – it is, in effect another side to her story…

If you don’t do anything else (and don’t read it), buy it anyway. It will help, just a little, but it will help someone somewhere out there, who is looking for a new place to call home, somewhere they can live in the peace we all take so much for granted.

Better still, buy it and read it. Then tell everyone else to, and get them to buy and read it too.

This is not a book to share – its a book to be bought.

Though perhaps we could subsidise all members of both houses of parliament to have a copy, along with Elizabeth Laird’s book.

Its time we started to care.

I’m sure Waterstone’s could do a promotion for that many copies and I would be very happy to process them through the till.

I have, but one criticism, (it is very small) – it’s this. The word ‘gotten’ is used and though, that in itself lends some colour to the book, for those who are also studying English for exams, as well as reading a good book, it should perhaps have been exchanged for another. It is of no serious matter, but none-the-less it is one that should not be used, unless of course the book is meant to be written in American.

Published by Orion Books

This reminds me a little of Welcome to Nowhere (Elizabeth Laird’s book on the Syrian refugee crisis); this though is a tale of Tibet, of bravery, adventure, secrets, mountains, danger, and two extraordinary yaks. It is another story about man’s inhumanity to man – but it is also a tale of hope. Tash and Sam attempt to travel to India from Tibet by yak, hoping to meet the Dalai Lama and perhaps make some contribution to change.

The chapters are small, no more than a few pages, with beautifully decorated leaves in between. Simply and clearly written it is a powerful novel.

I now want to visit Tibet, the mountains and perhaps to be introduced to a yak or a dri…I suspect they are rather special creatures.


Published by Macmillan Children’s Books.

I recently organised a school event for Elizabeth Laird and at the end one of the boys asked Elizabeth Laird which was her favourite book, that she had written. It was obviously a very difficult question; her reply much the same as many parents’ – she loves them all, however, she did go on to say that the character Ben, in the story, was based around her younger brother, and so perhaps, if pushed this is her favourite.

This is the story of Anna’s family – her Mum, Dad, little sister, Katy and their new baby brother Ben. It is a tale of growing up, of accepting responsibilities, of acknowledging who you are, and who other people are too – along with realising that love comes in many forms and ways. It is a story of a family dealing with someone special, who though severely disabled, has a massive impact on the family.  Sometimes in a good way, and at other times taking all the attention.

The preface explains just a little about Elizabeth’s relationship with her brother Alistair – the positives and the negatives. Superb.


Published by Macmillan January 2017

Elizabeth Laird has always written gripping tales based more often than not on facts she has gathered to give substance and reality to her stories.

This volume is no exception. This is the story of Omar and his family, the story of the Syrian refugee crisis and it is the story of people. It is pure luck that I live in a society that at the moment allows me some freedom of speech. Certainly more than many others. I write a blog about children’s books. I have the freedom to write what I like. I go to work where  I encourage children to read, to think about their society whilst doing so – about what is right, wrong and the responsibilities we have to  one another. My sister trained as a doctor and became a consultant – our circumstances could and would have been so different if we had just lived somewhere else. This is a story of a family whose life is the other side of the coin. Omar at the beginning of the book dreams of selling postcards; enough postcards so that he can perhaps purchase a donkey. Then a whole herd. He is bright, not in a school sense perhaps, but with common sense and with the habit of working hard as a back bone to his beliefs. When things change dramatically in Syria, those dreams are quickly and irrevocably destroyed.

This is a story of immense bravery and hardship and is a tale of those whose lives this Christmas aren’t like ours. I wonder how my family would have survived. If I am honest, I am not sure we would have. There are many books being published about dystopian societies – many extreme examples. This small volume’s story, however, is more poignant and has more impact than they have.

Everyone should read this. Should you purchase a copy of the hardback of this book, (and at just £9.99 there is no reason why you shouldn’t) 50pence from that sale will go to an international agency supporting the Syrian refugee crisis. Not much, perhaps, but every little counts.

Elizabeth Laird is an author who choses stories that are often edgy and strong.. They are often based in fact and deal with issues most of us will never have to face and often would prefer not to acknowledge. This book is a must read. If you purchase no other book in 2017,  (which I admit is unlikely), but should that be the case, then it should be this one.

A moving and extraordinary tale of bravery, resilience and families.

Her last comment is to propose that we might wonder what happens next to Omar and his family after the end of the story. She observes that that is down to us.

Other titles she has written include: The Garbage King, The Prince who Walked with Lions, Oranges in No Man’s Land, Red Sky in the Morning and Kiss the Dust.