Sunday, July 21, 2024
Secret Friends

Secret Friends

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by Elizabeth Laird

This haunting story about Rafaella, the new girl at school who finds making friends hard, is a stunning piece of writing. With her strange name and sticking out ears, she’s different from the rest. Lucy is the first to tease, the first to call her ‘Earwig’. Until a secret friendship starts, full of warmth and mystery.

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • The story starts on the first day at a new school. Make a guide for your school to give new pupils information about it before they arrive.
  • Write character profiles / descriptions of the different people in the story… Lucy, Rafaella, Rafaella’s family, Kate and Sophie, Miss Lewis, and Mr Samson.
  • Look through the text for adventurous vocabulary (e.g. treacherous, outcaste, offended, hypocrites, embarrassment, contempt). What do these words mean? Can you find synonyms? Can you put the words into a sentence of your own?
  • Write one of the stories that might appear in the book that Rafaella’s dad reads.
  • Write a letter from Lucy to Rafaella while Lucy is stuck at home with flu. Could you also write a response from Rafaella back to Lucy?


  • Draw pictures of faces which show different emotions identified in the story… excitement, nervousness, embarrassment, regret, disappointment, sadness, loneliness, laughter, love, guilt, anger, and happiness.
  • Use the description of Rafaella’s house to draw an illustration of what it looks like inside.
  • Draw one of the illustrations from the book that Rafaella’s dad reads at his house.
  • Try to draw a portrait of a special friend in the same style as the illustrations in the book. You could also add labels to show why they are a friend.


  • Which country might Rafaella’s family come from? Find clues in the text.


  • This story is a great way of starting discussions about bullying. What is bullying? What different forms does bullying take? Why do people bully? What can we do if we are being bullied ourselves? What can we do if someone that we know is being bullied? Who is available to help us?
  • Make a poster to put up around your school to discourage bullying and to help people who might be being bullied.
  • In the story, Rafaella is a little different from other children. Use this to talk about similarities and differences between people. How are we similar? How are we different? Why is it good that everyone is different?
  • At the beginning of the story, Lucy says something that she regrets. What does ‘regret’ mean? Have you ever done something that you regretted later? How could you make things better?
  • Rafaella is ignored at school. Discuss how she might be feeling about this. What might she be thinking? Could she do anything to help the situation? What can others do to help her?
  • Lucy is best friends with Rafaella outside of school, but inside school, Lucy doesn’t want to risk being seen with Rafaella. Why does she feel like this? How does each of them feel? What can they do to help the situation?
  • Lucy and Rafaella give each other matching presents at Christmas. What special presents could you give to your friends? Why would they like them?
  • Play ‘Secret Friends’. Write the names of each child in your class on a separate piece of paper. Ask each child to choose one of the names, and that person becomes their ‘secret friend’ for a week. They have to do nice things for that person, without the other person realising. At the end of the week, ask the children to try and guess who was doing nice things for them.

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