Sylvain Meunier, illustrated by Élisabeth Eudes-Pascal,
Raffi's New Friend (First Novels Series)
Formac Publishing Co., 2010.
Translated from the French by Sarah Cummins, this is the story of Raffi McCaffrey, his friend Carlito and a new girl at school, Fatima. The book begins with Raffi and Carlito witnessing Fatima being bullied by Frank and his gang. The bullies are trying to pull Fatima’s head scarf off, and because Raffi has a physical disability, he feels powerless to stop them. Luckily Raffi’s father shows up in the nick of time and chases the bullies away. As the story progresses, Raffi and Fatima develop a bond over their mutual love of birds, and Carlito develops a crush on Fatima. When Fatima’s father returns home from the "war-torn country of his birth", Fatima removes her headscarf. She was wearing it to bring him luck, and had vowed to herself not to remove it until her father came home.
I found that while the book explores some serious and interesting themes, it lacked impact. Additionally, the dialogue seemed stilted and did not really ring true. Other books about Raffi include Raffi’s Animal Rescue, Raffi’s Island Adventure, and Raffi’s For the Birds.
Thematic Links: Prejudice; Tolerance; Multiculturalism; Friendship; War
Vol. 16, number 4
E - Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!
G - Good, even great at times, generally useful!
A - Average, all right, has its applications.
P - Problematic, puzzling, poorly presented.