Heroes Like Us: Two Stories

Delacorte. Nov. 2022. 176p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780593488195.
Gr 3-6–This new book by Raúf (The Boy at the Back of the Class) features two novellas about kid heroes. In the first, “The Day We Met the Queen,” Alexa and the other characters from The Boy at the Back of the Class are excitedly awaiting their scheduled tea with the Queen of England. Ahmet is particularly excited to show the Queen the backpack he brought with him from Syria, and to ask her what she plans to do to help other refugees like him. But when the students are asked to give a presentation at school the day before the tea, the assembly is interrupted by stink bombs. The second novella, “The Great Food Bank Heist,” follows a boy named Nelson, who is always hungry. His mother’s salary doesn’t always provide enough to buy groceries for him and his little sister, and they rely on their visits to the local food bank to survive. Although “The Day We Met the Queen” is simpler and not quite as well developed as The Boy at the Back of the Class, fans of Alexa, Ahmet, and their friends will be happy to read their latest adventure. Hopefully they’ll stick around to read “The Great Food Bank Heist,” which presents a compelling, moving depiction of life for kids facing food insecurity. The stakeout and pursuit of the food bank robbers makes for an exciting, high-stakes conclusion.
VERDICT These two short novellas will appeal to fans of The Boy at the Back of the Class, as well as middle graders who like modern-day adventure stories.

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