Book Review: The Un-Forgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

I visited the wonderful Children’s Bookshop in Huddersfield yesterday. If you’ve never been and you live locally you must pop in. It’s gorgeous.  The outside looks like a children’s bookshop should, with white bow windows and a door with a bell that jangles when you open it.







The Children’s Bookshop, Huddersfield ©VirtualHuddersfield

It  wouldn’t look out of place in Diagon Alley and I’m not even kidding. When you go in there’s a spacious room to the left just for picture books.  Further down what would have been the hallway of the house (all book-lined)  is  the junior fiction and YA stuff,  all displayed in solid bookshelves and low tables,  like a homely library. Further back still is an area full of second-hand books, from recent publications to early, doorstep-sized volumes bound in fraying cloth and laden with precious illustrations. Every room has its own magical feel.

I bought three books:

1. The Un-forgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Junior fiction)  because I love Frank Cottrell Boyce













The Un-Forgotten Coat published by Walker Books


2. Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner (YA fiction) because the title’s been getting a lot of attention on my Twitter feed
















Maggot Moon ( ) 


3. Let’s Go to London by Kaye Umansky (Junior play) because I’m writing a play at the moment and wanted to double -check the layout. Also Kaye Umansky is fab.










Let’s go to London is in the A&C Black White Wolves series


And I took a photo of one book to buy another time because it contained the best poster for a classroom imaginable. More of that another time.

Despite having a pile of books to read longer than the River Trent, I plunged straight in to the Un- Forgotten Coat and read it in one setting. What can I say? Boyce, who wrote ‘Millions‘ and ‘Cosmic’ and helped with the astounding opening ceremony to London 2012,  has done it again. He’s written ‘A gem of a story’ as it says on the cover.













Frank Cotrrell Boyce signing books at the CWIG event back in 2010. 

What’s the book about?

Julie is an ordinary Y6, doing ordinary Y6 things with her best mate Mimi. Then one day, two new kids, Chingis and Nergui arrive in class. They are brothers, from Mongolia, and boy, do they look weird in their strange coats and bulky hats. They appoint Julie as their ‘Good Guide’. This appointment, she soon finds out, entails way more than showing them where the cloakrooms are and what food to avoid at school lunchtimes. It leads  to mysterious events and strange, scary places. Nothing is as it seems with Chingis and Nergui. Nothing at all. Read a Guardian Books review here.

What makes it different?

The design of the book lifts it out of the ordinary – the use of ‘polaroid’ photographs and lined paper  is clever. The dialogue is sharp and full of that sparky humour  only someone from Liverpool or Ireland could pull off. Don’t ask me why that is; it just is, OK?

Who is it for?

Classroom teachers to read out loud to their Y5/6/7s.  Anyone between 9 and 13 years-old. Boys and girls, mums, dads, social workers and politicians.


Friendship, fitting in, immigration.

Buy it or Borrow? 

Both. It costs £7.99 but is free from any library








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