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Bali Rai is a well-established, award winning and hugely popular voice within the young adult fiction market. His particular successful title Rani and Sukh became a set-text for GCSE English. His novel Killing Honour won the North East Teen Book Award, and was described as 'utterly compelling' by The Bookseller. He lives in Leicester with his family. Read more about the author here.
Bali is Booktrust's online writer in residence. Click here to read his blog.
Interest Age 8+ Reading Age 8 | Animal lover, Suffragette, favourite of Queen Victoria, lifelong campaigner – Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was a truly remarkable person and Bali Rai brings her wonderfully to life in this short, but action-packed biography. He writes it in Sophia’s voice as first-person narrative and readers will absolutely feel they are there in the different moments described and will fully understand Sophia’s sense of being caught halfway between two words – the British aristocracy and her Indian homeland. Everyone should know her story and I’d press this into the hands of all young people to inspire them with the sense that you can make a difference to the world, and to let them see through the eyes of this extraordinary woman. Published by Dyslexia specialists Barrington Stoke, this is super-readable to all.
“We are all family,” says Mo, the Indian-born RAF pilot who becomes irrevocably connected to thirteen-year-old Joelle when his plane crashes near her Nazi-occupied French village. “I believe that all of creation is one whole. We are bound together, each of us, by invisible links, and all are equally important.” This uplifting ethos of equality ripples through Mohinder’s War, a story of solidarity and survival against the odds; of friendship and hope through horror and loss. Joelle lived a “charmed life” in pre-war France, her English mother and French father kept busy by their family boulangerie. Following the outbreak of war and Nazi occupation they support the French Resistance. As a result, when Joelle happens upon Mohinder, they keep him safe in their home - but at huge risk, for the Germans know about Mo’s crashed plane and have placed a reward on his capture. Alongside the ever-present menace of discovery, the French Resistance want Mo as a bargaining chip. “The British left us to rot,” they say. “Now, in exchange for their pilot, they must pay too.” Then, when treachery leads to tragedy, Mo comes good on his promise to protect Joelle. Short, and driven by compelling characters, engaging dialogue and an onward-marching pace, this is perfect for reluctant readers who may struggle to keep focus. It’s also excellent for prompting discussions around WWII and broader ethical issues - betrayal, trust and what it is to do the right (and wrong) thing. Importantly, it also shows the vital role played by Indians in Britain’s WWII campaign, and shares information about Mo’s Sikh faith. Stirringly, the story is framed by a contemporary setting, with Joelle revealing this incredible - and hitherto unknown – story at Mo’s funeral.
October 2018 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | One of our 2018 Books of the Year | A heartfelt, hard-hitting, super-readable novella about the life-affirming, life-saving friendship that blossoms between a young teenager and her 59 year-old neighbour. All sweet-hearted Aman wanted was for her dad to stay a little longer, but he died before she had chance to read her special letter to him. While grappling with grief, she’s bullied by a bunch of older kids, but thankfully new neighbour Gurnam intervenes to scare them off. While Aman sees Gurnam as her “personal superhero”, she notices a sadness about him, but he won’t reveal the cause of his pain. The truth is revealed with poignant, page-turning urgency, leading to a shocking finale that sees Aman grasp a second vital chance to read her love-filled letter. There’s so much humanity and soul in this short gem of a story. While the content is YA, this is written for those with a reading age of 8+, in a lucid, gripping style that tells it like it is and gets to the core of the characters’ hearts. I relished every word.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 | In a nutshell: bullying, injustice and the power of friendship In short, sharp, economical sentences, Bali Rai presents a story of bullying – by individuals and the state – and of escape and redress. Cal is picked on at school by Anu, who humiliates him and hurts him for being smart and geeky. New boy Jacob is singled out by the other class bully for being scruffy, poor, an outsider. Cal thinks they could be friends – they share in interest in superheroes – but Jacob, who uses a foodbank, is super sensitive to pity. Eventually the two do become friends and, with the help of a girl called Freya, find a way to expose those who like to hurt the weak and less fortunate. The setting will be familiar to all readers, and the message that by standing together it’s possible to improve society, is an important one. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 13+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 Young footballer Baljit, the hero of Bali Rai’s Dream On, is preparing for a trial with Liverpool FC’s youth squad – something he’s dreamed of all his life. But there’s lots else going on in Baljit’s life – his girlfriend is worried that she’ll lose him; his best friend Danny’s hopes of a career in football may have been ended; and there’s a racist thug out to get him. Can Baljit work out a way to follow his dream without harming the people who matter to him most? Football-mad readers will love this, but so will anyone who likes their fiction fast-paced, involving and firmly rooted in contemporary life. I’ve really got to like Baljit and his family, and hope there’ll be more stories about them to come. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range. ...................................... Read a special Q&A with Bali Rai on his book, Game On.
Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 Baljit – Jit to his school friends – helps out in his father’s chippy but dreams of playing football in the Premier League. When he’s given a chance to take part in open trials for under-16s in front of scouts for the big teams, he knows he has to be there, even though it will mean lying to his mum and dad. This feel-good story successfully mixes drama, comedy and even a bit of romance (Jit ends up with the girl of his dreams as well as invites to attend second trials at Arsenal and Liverpool), while the descriptions of Jit’s home life, and relationships with his friends, are particularly warm and satisfying. ~ Andrea Reece Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 12+ Barrington Stoke is the foremost publisher of dyslexia friendly books and those for reluctant readers. Here on Lovereading4kids we are constantly selecting new titles and refreshing our special dyslexia friendly category. Click here to view our current selection which is broken down by age range. ................................. Read a special Q&A with Bali Rai on his book, Game On.
One of our Dyslexia Friendly Books of the Year 2014 - Interest Age Teen, Reading Age 8+ Award-winning Bali Rai pulls no punches in his story about Mick, the neighbour from hell and his unpleasant, racist attitudes. Harvey’s family do all they can to show friendship but Mick won’t change his views. But when Mick is taken ill and Harvey looks after his scruffy dog Nelson, another side to the story is uncovered. The question is, can Mick change his views. Bali Rai tells a moving and important story simply and with great insight.
Interest Age teen - Reading Age 8+ Bali Rai hits hard in this dark and haunting teen novel. Nothing has gone well for Sam since he and his mother were forced to leave their comfortable home after his dad’s disappearance under unpleasant circumstances. When a beautiful girl befriends him in the middle of a freak snowstorm on the grim estate where he lives, he feels his life will take a turn for the better. But Cassie is no ordinary girl; soon Sam finds himself on a trail of revenge with the most dangerous consequences.
Thoughtful and deeply moving, this book packs a hard punch. From the moment that his sister Jas disappears, Sat knows that something serious has gone wrong. Accused by her husband of running off with a boyfriend, Jas just vanishes. While his family accept the story and lie low, ‘shamed’ by her behaviour, Sat refuses to believe that his sister would ever do such a thing. Risking his life, Sat’s search for the truth involves uncovering the corruption and violence at the heart of his brother-in-law’s business operations. More importantly, it involves challenging the Sikh community’s frightening view of ‘honour’. Bali Rai writes with enormous conviction and great understanding.
Selected by a distinguished independent panel of experts including our editorial expert, Julia Eccleshare, for Diverse Voices - 50 of the best Children's Books celebrating cultural diversity in the UK. This highly personal story was partly influenced by Bali Rai's own experiences, it looks at the impact cultural traditions can have on young people growing up in modern times and the book will resonate with all who have experienced the pressure of expectation at the hands of their family.