Raffi McCaffrey, Sylvain Meunier’s determined boy-hero with sickle-cell anemia, returns for another ad- venture in Raffi’s New Friend. Raffi and his faithful pal Carlito witness an act of bullying that draws them to the victim: Fatima, a new student at their school who is hounded by three peers for wearing a headscarf. Later, Raffi and Carlito stumble upon her private
moment of grief as she feeds mourning doves in her backyard, singing with a voice “as light as a sigh, pure as crystal.” Their mutual interest in the birds draws them together, and the boys discover the reason for her sadness – not the schoolyard taunts, as they imagined, but the absence of her beloved father, gone missing in her war-torn homeland. Although Meunier’s novel – a translated work – sometimes falls into awkward phrasing, it is successful in its discussion of prejudice and violence, using a scenario accessible to young Canadian readers. Eudes- Pascal’s ink sketch- es convey the characters’ emotions with flair.
Andrea Belcham is the author of the forthcoming Food and Fellowship: Pro- jects and Recipes to Feed a Community (The Alternate Press/Life Media).