My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Frank Cottrell Boyce writes magic. I am of no doubt that pretty much everything he publishes in the realm of children’s literature will be thought of as utter classics in the years to come. And, to be frank, they should be sung and danced about now for his books are magical classics already.
I love Millions. Millions is my desert island book of choice.
But I think The Unforgotten Coat might come very close to usurping it.
The Unforgotten Coat of the title belongs to Chingis, one of two Mongolian brothers, who Julie knew as a child. They turned up at her school one day, and Julie still remembers every moment of her time with them. In flashbacks, Julie tells us the story of how Chingis asked her to be their “Good Guide”; a sort of guide to the new culture they found themselves in. Julie even taught them football – by borrowing next door’s ball, and then when that didn’t prove enough, borrowing next door’s boy.
But there’s something very wrong with the two brothers. Chingis tells Julie how he and Nergui are being chased by a demon – a demon who “makes things vanish”. And it’s Julie’s slow discovery of the truth about the demon – and about the boys themselves – that forms the sad, painful truth of this story.
Conceptually, this book is beautifully packaged. It’s part of the story itself; pages are lined as in like an exercise book, and it’s interwoven with polaroid pictures that form part of Chingis’ narrative. It’s superb work and needs recognition.
Cottrell Boyce writes this book with a very brilliant simplicity. He has the gift of insight; we are wholly able to lose ourselves in Julie and can’t help but feel her confused pain when the book comes to a resolution. I loved this book. It’s quick to read, but the impact of it is huge. It is a bold, emotional story that hits you very deep.
I’d like Frank Cottrell Boyce to stop being so good now please.