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The Unforgotten Coat

by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Book list With both humor and sorrow, this chapter book tells a contemporary refugee story in which illegal immigrants help a local kid find a sense of belonging. When Mongolian Chingis and his younger brother, Nergui, turn up in Julie's sixth-grade class in Bootle, near Liverpool, they ask her to be their guide i. learning themselves ordinary. They ask about the rules of football and the right buzzwords, and Chingis tells Julie about the exotic wonders of Genghis Khan's Xanadu and shows her, and the reader, amazing Polaroids of nomads in the desert. In her first-person narrative, Julie describes the moving friendship, and even while the brothers hide from authorities, they help Julie learn to see the strange and wonderful in her own home, especially after she discovers that thei. exoti. pictures were taken right where she lives, in the nearby fields and alleyways. Inspired by the many photo images throughout the story, readers will see the riches in the smallest details even schoolyard trash cans.--Rochman, Haze. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Boyce follows Cosmic with a tight, powerful story-brimming with humor, mystery, and pathos-about illegal immigration and the price it exacts on children. Two Mongolian brothers, Chingis and Nergui, arrive at a British school wearing fur coats and refusing to follow the teacher's instructions that Nergui remove his hat that's low on his face: "When you need your eagle to be calm," Chingis says, "you cover its eyes with a hood. When you want the eagle to fly and kill, you take off the hood." The class is enthralled, and when Chingis singles our sixth-year Julie to be their "Good Guide," things that had previously fascinated her (makeup, boys) fall away as she bones up on Genghis Khan and helps the boys learn Liverpudlian slang and the rules of football-"learning themselves ordinary," she terms it. They tell her they are hiding from a demon, punctuating their tall tales with Polaroids, taken by Hunter and Heney (Boyce's filmmaker collaborators), which deepen the mystery. In an author's note Boyce explains his inspiration, making an already moving story even more so. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-7-It's the end of sixth grade, and all Julie can think about is makeup and boys. Things change when two oddly dressed brothers show up at school. Even though it's hot outside, they wear identical fur-lined coats and claim to be Mongolian nomads. Chingis is cheeky to the teacher, demanding in no uncertain terms that his younger brother, Nergui, stay in the class with him for protection. The boys single out Julie to be their Good Guide. She takes her title seriously-she shows them how to dress and act and researches Mongolian history to share with the class. She's hoping that all this helpfulness will translate into an invitation to their home-she is sure it is filled with exotic silks and samovars. As Julie gets to know the brothers, she discovers that their life isn't as romantic as she imagined. They are fearful and evasive, believing that a demon is trying to make them vanish. Nergui isn't even the younger boy's real name-it means "no one," and he uses it to confuse the demon. When the boys disappear from school, Julie decides to follow them, using the images in Chingis's photos to guide her to their whereabouts. This story stems from the author's encounter with a young deportee, a Mongolian girl. Although the novel deals with the serious subject of illegal immigration, Boyce's dialogue is warm and humorous, keeping the book engaging. Chingis's mysterious Polaroids, displayed throughout the book, make for an intriguing format. Julie narrates the story as an adult, looking back, but an unusual ending gives it a contemporary, touching twist.-Diane McCabe, Loyola Village Elementary School, Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.