Books by Sylvain Meunier

RAFFI'S NEW FRIEND by Sylvain Meunier
Released: March 1, 2011

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)Read full book review >