You Must Be Layla
13 year-old Layla is clever, ambitious and funny. She's left her comfortable Islamic school in Brisbane, Australia and is starting a scholarship at a private school where she is the first (and only) child to wear a Muslim headscarf. The first week is hardly welcoming, but Layla’s determined to make this work - even though she ends up being suspended for fighting back against a prejudiced bully. Layla decides the only way to really prove herself is to win a big regional robotics competition with her very ambitious invention, but can she do it - especially when the boy who bullied her is on the other team?
This is a laugh out loud story about making friends, carving your way in the world and having the confidence to do things your way. Layla is a fabulous, plucky protagonist, and her inventive attitude to surmounting hurdles is inspiring. The book is also an introduction to thinking about some of the barriers people of colour can face, illustrated by Layla’s older brother Ozzie who has been applying for jobs and not even getting interviews. It offers an insight into normal Muslim family life (the Australian setting will be effortlessly accessible to UK kids) together with a brilliant glossary of terms. This story is fresh and funny and is an empowering read - especially for girls and people of colour. A really great secondary school-age novel that everyone should read!