Balaclava Boy is a fresh, contemporary and very engaging read from award-winning author, Jenny Robson. Life is progressing much as expected for the Doo Dudes, Damisani and Doogal (aka the Big Ds). Boring lessons are mitigated by the occasional joke and football at lunch time is the best part of each day.
But one day Tommy arrives at the school. Tommy is unusual, because he always wears a balaclava. On the first day, this is red-and-orange striped, but each day brings a new colour of balaclava. Because the children at Colliery Primary School are mostly kind, caring and thoughtful, they plan various ways to discover who Balaclava Boy really is and why he wears a balaclava all the time, without actually asking him outright. When they do finally ask, the only answer they are given is ‘Because’.
Every single theory turns out to be wrong and as the book rushes headlong towards its final denouement, the reader is swept along at a rapid pace. When the reason is finally revealed, readers will quickly realise that in the course of the narrative, they have learned profound lessons about identity, self-esteem, bullying, solidarity and the right to be who we are no matter what anyone else thinks.
The narrative is amusing and intriguing. The short text and regular line drawings will appeal to reluctant readers and experienced readers alike. But behind the humour and the clearly drawn characters lie truths that would form the basis of a range of PSHE issues and circle time discussions. It is a must for all KS2 classrooms and libraries.