Secret friends ISBN: 9780340664735
Published by Hodder
Lucy and Rafaella meet for the first time during their first day at secondary school. In an unthinking moment, Lucy calls Rafaella 'Earwig' because she has unusually big ears. The nickname sticks. Lucy wants to get 'in' with the popular crowd, and Rafaella, who is foreign and different in ways other than her ears, is always on the fringes. The other girls are unkind, and while Lucy likes Rafaella and often goes to her warm and friendly (and exotic) home after school, she refuses to befriend her at school. They are 'secret friends'. Over Christmas something exciting is going to happen to Rafaella - something she won't tell Lucy about, but that she is convinced will change her life. The exciting event is that she is to have an operation to have her ears pinned back, but a congenital heart defect, suspected by no one, means that she dies under the anaesthetic. Lucy feels guilt and grief equally, and only after Rafaella's death does she have the courage to admit to her classmates that they were dear friends. Rafaella's family is loving and forgiving, and they tell Lucy that she made a big difference in Rafaella's life. Soft charcoal illustrations blend perfectly with this deeply moving story. A Carnegie nominee in 1997.