Morris Gleitzman is an Australian author that we love and celebrate (and of course we ignore that he was born in England). I've read this both aloud and as a book club with a section of my class. It's heavy but it's so very impacting. I love the idea that children can read this text and make their own assumptions about illegal immigrants, rather than copying their parent's opinions.
Rating: 5 out of 5. This book had me on the verge of tears multiple times. I haven't yet read Girl Underground but it's definitely on my list!
Age suggestion: At least 10+
Ability level: Also at least 10+
Content notes: This is about a boy who leaves Afghanistan because his parents were running an illegal school, and getting on a people-smuggler's boat to Australia. It is deep, and pretty messed up, but still accessible for pre-teens. I found this best read together with children so that we could participate in discussion. The fact is that this is a reality for so many children around the world, and I think it's important for our children who are lucky enough to be born into a country like Australia, to read about this topic. When I read this aloud to my class they were horrified that there were girls in the world not aloud to play soccer or go to school. These are things they need to know if we're to expect them to change the world!
Yes this is a deep and confronting book, but one I think our pre-teens need to be exposed to! If they're not a strong enough reader to read it themselves, read it to them.