The Unforgotten Coat discussion guide



Author: Frank Cottrell Boyce

Publisher: Walker Books

Suggested Year Group: Y5

Book Synopsis:

Julie O’Connor looks back on her unforgettable experience of meeting Mongolians Chingis and Nergui when in year six. She becomes their good guide and shows them Bootle in Liverpool.

Rationale for Selection:

The Unforgotten Coat works well as a guided reading text. There is a lot of scope for discussion and for reflection; for example the issue of asylum seeking, friendship and school memories. There are many stylistic features in this book which also work well for small group discussion. Such as the inclusion of Polaroid photographs and how the text is designed.

Points for Discussion:

Before reading:

  • This story is set in Liverpool and features two characters newly arrived from Mongolia. prior to reading, find these places on a globe or world map.
    • Use the internet and other sources to find out about Mongolia.
    • What do you think it might be like to live there?
    • What can you find out about the Mongolian Steppes, Xanadu Kublai Khan, yurts, ovoos
  • Look at the front cover – describe the layout. What do you think the book will about and why?
    • Discuss the title – Why would a coat be described as ‘un-forgotten’?
  • Why do you think there is a cover of a notebook on the first page?
    • Who could it belong to?

During reading:

Our Good Guide

  • Who narrates this story?
    • How old do you think the narrator is at the time of telling this story?
    • What makes you think that?
    • You may want to think about this again at the end of the book.
  • The words ‘Oh My Days’ are written differently on page 7. Why do you think the author chose to do this?
  • What thoughts do you think you will have when you are in year six?
  • What are your first impressions of Chingis and Nergui be and why?
    • How do you think you would have reacted if they had come to your school?
  • Why do you think Chingis is so protective over his younger brother?
  • If you were the boys and new at the school who would you choose to be your ‘good guide’?
  • Why do you think the boys chose Julie?
  • On page 14 Chingis mentions eagle calming.  Julie says ' And in that moment, I felt my own ignorance spread suddenly out behind me like a pair of wings, and every single think I didn't know was a feather on those wings. I could feel them tugging at the air, restless to be airborne.'
    • Why do you think Julie feels like this?
    • Do you think the 'flying' metaphor is an effective way of describing this feeling? Why do you think that?
    • Do you think that you learn more in school or out of school? Can you give some examples to show why you think that?
Eaglehood Coat
    • How does Julie feel when she finds Chingis coat?
      • She calls it 'the unforgettable coat of Chingis Tuul',how does that relate to the coat being found in 'lost Property?
    • Why do you think Chingis has taken the pictures that are in the pocket of his coat?

    Demon eat this

    • There is a picture of a dough man on page 24 with the caption ‘demon eat this’ what do you think this means?
      • What do you think will happen in this chapter?
    • What reason does Chingis give for having to leave Mongolia? Do you think this explains why they have come to Bootle?
      • Why do you think they always take a different route home from school?
    • On page 29 Julie says her Mum was inflicted with ‘baking panic’ how do you think she was acting?

    £1. one pound

    • How does Julie begin to see things differently as a result of being a Good guide?
    • 'The best way to die a needle in a haystack is to disguise the needle as a piece of hay.' How does Julie feel about the boys 'hiding themselves inside English'?

    Returning the coat

    When Julie and her mother return Chingis coat. What do they discover?

    • Julie says 'I don't know why. But I knew that everyone in that house was afraid.' What clues lead Julie to this conclusion?

    Why do you think Shocky has learnt about Chingis Khan?

    The Desert

    • p.64 Julie discovers the real origins of the photographs What do you think this means?
      • 'the funny thing was, it looked like Mongolia, as though he could turn bits of Liverpool into bits of Mongolia just by pointing his camera at them.' If you have ever travelled overseas, what similarities have you noticed with the place you come from? What differences?

    Back to Roberts and Tower

    Why do the brothers think Julie has betrayed them?

    The Unforgotten Coat

    Why does Julie think that 'Chingis's Mongolia was one big mental ovoo'?

    What do you think is on the black Polaroid?

    After reading:

    Make available and read other books that deal with the subject of refugees such as Shaun Tan's 'The Arrival', Morris Gleitzman's 'Boy Overboard' and 'Girl underground' Deborah Ellis' 'Mud City'. 


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