I always get excited when a new book by Onjali Q. Raúf is published and I was thrilled to see that for her latest venture she has partnered up with the brilliant Barrington Stoke. This powerful read raises awareness about a very important issue - food poverty.
Ashley and Nelson’s mum works hard as a nurse and does the best she can to make sure that her salary covers all of their expenses. But sometimes there is just not enough money for everything and that means a trip to the greatest bank in the world. This bank doesn’t deal in money, it deals in kindness and providing essentials to those in need. The shelves are overflowing with shiny tins and rustling packets and the best part about it…everything is free!
When children begin to notice that the food bank shelves have less food on them than usual, everyone is concerned. Rumours of thieves are talked about at breakfast club but surely this can not be happening. Are the donations becoming fewer or is there another reason for the shelves becoming emptier and emptier and the tummies becoming hungrier and hungrier? Nelson and his friends are determined to solve the mystery…
Inspired by Marcus Rashford’s incredible effort to ensure that no child should go hungry and be a victim of food-poverty, The Great (Food) Bank Heist is trademark Raúf. It deals with the very real and important issues that families face and wraps them into a heart-warming story that all children and adults should read.
There are so many powerful messages in this short read and it will go a long way to helping those children who have not experienced food poverty better understand what life is like when the cupboards are empty, the only thing in the fridge is the light and when bellies are so hungry that they are literally crying out for food. Raúf does a brilliant job of breaking down the stigma around asking for help and relying on the charity and goodwill of others. No child should ever feel embarrassed about going to a breakfast club or the food bank - these are things that kids are acutely aware of and I hope after reading this that children who use these services can see that they are not alone and those who do not will have increased empathy and understanding towards those who do.
Equally important as the issue itself are those that work tirelessly to run and provide the much needed services and Raúf recognises and celebrates the heroes working in food banks, that run breakfast clubs and those who donate to food banks - these people need to know that they make the world of difference to children and their families every single day. Further information at the back of the book explains how we can all contribute to helping defeat food poverty and has additional details on the importance of food banks, breakfast clubs and donations.
True to Barrington Stoke form, this read is printed in dyslexia friendly font and on tinted paper ensuring the book can be accessed by every child. Helping bring the action to life are fabulous illustrations by one of my favourite illustrators, Elisa Paganelli - I love her work.
A personal and heartfelt thank you to Onjali for writing this wonderful book and to Barrington Stoke for the copy to read and review ahead of publication.
Recommended for 8+.