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The Unforgotten Coat

by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Published by Candlewick Press, 2011
112 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5729-1

Ages 9-12

Chingis and his younger brother, Nergui, stand out for many reasons in the school they attend in a small town near Liverpool. They have come to England from Mongolia, and they both wear big furry coats, even in warm weather. Chingis insists that Nergui be in his class, although he’s too young. Everything about them seems mysterious and fascinating, especially to Julie O’Connor, the classmate whom Chingis has hand-picked to serve as their Good Guide. Julie takes her duties seriously by introducing them to football rules and other important things they need to know in order to survive in England. She also studies up on Mongolia, to better understand where they came from, and eagerly listens to Chingis’s stories about his photographs: Polaroids he’s brought of his homeland. These photographs are an integral part of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s brilliant short novel told from Julie’s perspective, and the truth about them is only one of several stunning revelations in a story that balances humor and depth. When Chingis reveals that Nergui is being pursued by a demon who wants to make him vanish, Julie gets involved in helping to protect him. And when the true identity of the demon is revealed, it cements the impact this brief acquaintance has on Julie’s life as she begins to understand her own world through their eyes. In an author’s note, Boyce tells about the real-life Mongolian immigrant who inspired this story after he saw the amazing impact her presence had on other students in her class.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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