Leo and Sangeeta are best friends as they are the ‘different’ ones in their class. They are very excited to be going on a school trip to Rochester Cathedral and to the RAF museum to find information for a school project on WW2.
Leo is especially thrilled to discover his own name carved above the door in Rochester cathedral alongside names commemorating soldiers from all over the world who fought in WW2. This sparks an intense curiosity to find out who Leo was and why his name was there with a lion carved above it. Back at school the children not only find that their project will be the next assembly but also that the school has been chosen to take part in the Real Kidz Rule Remembrance Day competition.
Leo’s idea on forgotten heroes is chosen alongside family histories but the friends soon discover that there is virtually no information on heroes from the colonies or the wider world and begin to discover for themselves the impact of historical racism and whitewashing as they do not find anyone that looks like them in their history books. They also find very little information on women’s contribution to the war – something Sangeeta is particularly passionate about.
The children work incredibly hard to produce a fantastic display which is then marred by an unpleasant racist incident. With help from their families the display is repaired and the assembly a triumph as Leo and Sangeeta show the school that everyone’s history matters and should be told.
This is a timely account of the injustices and historical racism that has permeated our culture and WW2 history. There are plenty of pointers here for discussion in the classroom and at home and for making sure the curriculum is more inclusive. The stories of bravery during WW2 came from all corners of the earth. There is a helpful list of some of these forgotten heroes at the back of the book. Above all though this is a story of friendship and sticking up for what you believe in – all told with Rauf’s signature humour and charm.