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Raffi's New Friend
     

Raffi's New Friend

by Sylvain Meunier
 

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Although the new girl at Raffi's school is small and fragile looking, he notices that she is quick on her feet. She ducks out of the way of classmates that try to grab her head scarf. It might look like a game, but Raffi sees the tears in her eyes. Raffi knows all about being different. He suffers from sickle cell anemia, which makes it hard for him to get around

Overview

Although the new girl at Raffi's school is small and fragile looking, he notices that she is quick on her feet. She ducks out of the way of classmates that try to grab her head scarf. It might look like a game, but Raffi sees the tears in her eyes. Raffi knows all about being different. He suffers from sickle cell anemia, which makes it hard for him to get around and a target for bullies.

The new girl, Fatima, shares Raffi's interest in birds, and they feed the mourning doves together. Sadness sets in when the kids discover that the dove nest had been destroyed by the previous day's storm, but the return of Fatima's father, who had been missing since she and her mother had immigrated, brings inspiration to everyone.

The next week, Fatima's father talks to their class about how his native country is being destroyed by war. By using the example of the dove nest in the storm, he offers the class a lesson about the disruption wars cause which even the bullying kids take to heart.

Editorial Reviews

CM Magazine
"Meunier touches on a number of important themes in this book, including bullying, immigration, war, differences of race and health, prejudice, friendship, and love...Raffi's New Friend is a heartfelt, enjoyable story about making friends, overcoming challenges, and facing adversity head-on. Recommended."
Children's Literature - Nancy Garhan Attebury
One day Raffi and his friend Carlito see a girl being bullied because she's wearing a headscarf and right away they know they should help. At the same time, Raffi's dad arrives to give the boys a ride home. Raffi's dad assesses the situation and he quickly invites the bullies to leave. Raffi, who has sickle cell anemia, knows the brunt of these bullies first hand and he doesn't want the girl to suffer. As the tale progresses, Raffi and Carlito discover the girl, Fatima, loves bird-watching as much as they do. They form a friendship and the boys find out she's waiting for the return of her father, who went back to their old country to bring out Fatima's grandmother. While they play in the woods all three friends are cornered by the bullies. However, Fatima's dad returns and the bullies are thwarted. This book, a sequel to other books about Raffi, pairs short concise chapters, ease of reading, and intriguing illustrations with the topics of bullying, friendship, accepting differences and also the love of bird-watching. The pace is fast and plot is believable. The characters are well-drawn for a short book. Children who read this book will want to read more about Raffi. It covers children of different skills and backgrounds. In addition, it offers teachers the opportunity to open up discussions about topics of today. Reviewer: Nancy Garhan Attebury
Kirkus Reviews - Kikus Reviews

This early chapter book, translated from the French, tackles some weighty subjects and, sadly, is all but drowned by them. Raffi and Carlito set out to befriend a new girl, Fatima, whose headscarf has made her the target of the school bullies—the same bullies who taunt Raffi because he uses crutches due to his sickle-cell anemia. When Raffi asks his parents why Arab girls wear headscarves, they warn him not to "confuse Arab and Muslim." When a neighbor reveals that he and his wife avoid the new family, Carlito asks Raffi why this is. Raffi explains clearly but with no regard to natural-sounding dialogue: "Oh, that's just the way the Raycrofts are. They're always afraid of people they don't know. It's called prejudice. They were afraid of us at the beginning, because we're black." Once the two boys find Fatima, they discover that she has bigger problems than the school bullies. It seems her father returned to the old country to pick up Fatima's grandmother just as the country had broken into war, and Fatima and her mother are sick with worry as they await his return. This overly ambitious title could definitely spark discussion about bullying, violence, prejudice and war, but that presumes that someone can convince children to read it first. (Fiction. 6-10)

Kirkus Reviews

This early chapter book, translated from the French, tackles some weighty subjects and, sadly, is all but drowned by them. Raffi and Carlito set out to befriend a new girl, Fatima, whose headscarf has made her the target of the school bullies—the same bullies who taunt Raffi because he uses crutches due to his sickle-cell anemia. When Raffi asks his parents why Arab girls wear headscarves, they warn him not to "confuse Arab and Muslim." When a neighbor reveals that he and his wife avoid the new family, Carlito asks Raffi why this is. Raffi explains clearly but with no regard to natural-sounding dialogue: "Oh, that's just the way the Raycrofts are. They're always afraid of people they don't know. It's called prejudice. They were afraid of us at the beginning, because we're black." Once the two boys find Fatima, they discover that she has bigger problems than the school bullies. It seems her father returned to the old country to pick up Fatima's grandmother just as the country had broken into war, and Fatima and her mother are sick with worry as they await his return. This overly ambitious title could definitely spark discussion about bullying, violence, prejudice and war, but that presumes that someone can convince children to read it first. (Fiction. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780887809378
Publisher:
Formac Publishing Company, Limited
Publication date:
06/28/2012
Series:
Formac First Novels
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
64
Lexile:
580L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1 The girl was small and slim, but also quick and agile. She slipped free of the hands trying to pull off her headscarf. From far away, it might have looked like a game. Up close, you could see the tears in her eyes. Raffi McCaffrey gripped his metal crutches. He wished he could turn them into weapons. He would aim them at the bullies and paralyzing rays would knock them to the ground. But Raffi was weak, because he had sickle-cell anemia. His friend Carlito was in perfect health. The three bullies were tough guys from eighth grade Frank and his gang. They were blocking the exit from the school yard. They wouldn't let the girl with the scarf leave until they had had their mean fun. Raffi was about to yell at them to stop, when he heard the squeaky sound of an old van. His dad had come to pick him up. The van pulled to a stop in front of Raffi and Carlito. In the back was a bulky shape wrapped up in blankets. "Hi, guys! Hop in. I've got a delivery in the neighbourhood before we head home." As he got out of the van, he noticed Raffi was upset. "What's wrong?" Raffi looked over at Frank and the other two boys, who were still bothering the girl in the scarf. His father understood right away. Raffi had already told him about these bullies. He stood for a moment in thought, then reached into the van and pressed the horn. The horn blared for a good five seconds. The bullies were startled and looked over at the van. Raffi's dad took a few steps toward them. "Isn't it time for you to go home, gentlemen?" "That's none of your business," answered Frank. Mr. McCaffrey stayed calm. "I think it is," he replied. "We were just playing a game with her," muttered another one of the big boys. He seemed less sure of himself. "Well, the game is over now," Mr. McCaffrey said firmly. At that moment the three thugs realized that, while they were talking, the girl had slipped away. Frank muttered a swear word through clenched teeth. Then he pulled up his hood, and his buddies immediately pulled up theirs. The three shuffled off, their hands in their pockets. "Have they ever picked on you, Raffi?" asked Mr. McCaffrey. "No, they just make fun of him," Carlito answered for Raffi. "They say they don't waste their time on cripples." Raffi's dad sighed. "Do you two know that girl?" he asked. "No, she's new in school." "We only noticed her when she began to wear that headscarf," added Carlito. "Does she have any friends?" "I don't think so," said Raffi. "But why did those guys want to pull off her scarf?" "People like that don't need any reason. There were bullies like that in my school too, when I was young. I guess there always will be bullies. But that's no reason to let them keep on hurting people. I'll have a word with the principal." "We should run after them and pull off their hoods!" declared Carlito. "They certainly deserve it," laughed Mr. McCaffrey. "But let's not stoop to their level."

Meet the Author

SYLVAIN MEUNIER was born in Lachine, Quebec, and has written several books for adults and children. Two of his novels, Le seul ami and L'Homme a la bicyclette, have been finalists for the Governor General's award.

Sylvain Meunier was born in Lachine, Quebec, and has written several books for adults and children. Two of his novels, Le seul ami and L'Homme a la bicyclette, have been finalists for the Governor General's award.

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