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The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

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Children's Book of the Month

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Published by Walker, 2011

The Unforgotten Coat tells the story of two Mongolian refugee brothers living in a small British town near Liverpool.

Julie, the story’s narrator, now a young woman with a child of her own, tells a story she is reminded of from her childhood.
As a Year Six girl she has typical concerns, hanging out with her friends, trying to get the boy she fancies to notice her, until Chingis and Nergui, join her class. She soon becomes fond of and intrigued by the two boys, but doesn’t fully understand their family situation or immigration status until it’s somewhat too late.

When they first arrive in school their classmates are curious and fascinated by their afghan coats and stories of Mongolian life. With the help of Julie, whom they name their ‘good guide’, they soon fit in to school life and the three become good friends. However, Chingis and Nergui are afraid that a demon is chasing them and they enlist Julie’s help in outwitting it.

The story is based on a real Mongolian girl who was deported with her family. Frank Cottrell Boyce takes the girl’s story and turns it into another of his characteristically funny and moving stories for children. The book explores the refugee experience as well as issues of identity and an unfamiliar culture in a realistic and accessible way.

The text is written and presented as that of a child’s exercise book with Polaroid photos taken by Chingis of Mongolian scenes and places. It is an excellent read for anyone from pre-teens upwards

The Unforgotten Coat won the 2012 Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize