Terror Kid: A fantastic novel written for younger teenagers by Benjamin Zephaniah.
On the first day of work at my current school here in the UK we had a whole day of teacher training, parts of which featured child protection. In particular I remember a part about looking out for signs of extremism. It’s scary how sheltered and vulnerable to extreme ideas our students are. The area they live in is like a bubble that keeps them sheltered from some of the harsher parts of city life, but also keeps them from being exposed to the ideas and realities of a more cosmopolitan society. One of my students once told me he hated airports because there are so many foreigners there. He doesn’t know how racist that comment is, and that is a tragedy.
I guess that’s why I have really loved this novel: Terror Kid. It’s written by Benjamin Zephaniah who is a new favourite author for me. He fuelled my poetry unit for year seven exclusively! Look him up on YouTube for some great readings of his work! He doesn’t shy away from the issues that young people so desperately need to engage with.
The novel is about a boy who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rico is a whiz with computers and cares deeply about political and social issues. He understands injustice and wants to make a difference. Around him, his friends are involved in riots and looting, but he can see the futility of that violence. He’s frustrated – and then a stranger gives him a chance to do something real; something that would make a difference. But does he really understand what he’s getting into?
Rico ends up complicit in something bigger than he realised and torn between honesty and self preservation.
Although not on such an extreme scale, I think I know a lot of students who really would relate to that situation of getting in trouble just because of the people you’re associated with.
My rating: 3.5/5 – but only because it was a bit simple for my reading level! I think younger readers would give it a much higher rating.