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by Michael Morpurgo

Published by Feiwel and Friends, 2012
180 pages
ISBN: 978𢠥12-606596

Ages 912

Aman and his mother are Afghan refugees in England illegally. Now, six years after arriving, they抳e been arrested and are being held in the Yarl抯 Wood detention center, awaiting deportation back to a country where they will not be safe. Aman抯 best friend from school is Matt, and Matt抯 grandpa, a retired journalist, reluctantly visits Aman at his grandson抯 request. Much of Michael Morpurgo抯 novel梐nd its strongest dimension梚s Aman抯 story of what happened in Afghanistan as he and his family are persecuted by the Taliban. Although dogs as pets are counter to Aman抯 culture, the boy feels a connection to a stray, injured dog he finds while they are living in a cave. That dog, trained to sniff out IEDs, has been separated from British soldiers, and when Aman and his mother decide to flee, the dog is both their protector and, at times, guide. When they end up meeting the unit to which the dog belongs, the soldiers do what they can for Aman and his mother, but eventually the two are on their own again. The ending of this tale that underscores the plight of Afghan refugees may stray a little too much toward wish fulfillment, but readers will appreciate the message that speaking out against injustice can make a difference, while myriad details ground the rest of the telling in realism.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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