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Rosie Raja: Mission to Cairo

Authored by Sufiya Ahmed
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

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Rosie Raja: Mission to Cairo is a spy thriller in which Rosie must help her father, an English operative for Churchill’s Special Operations Executive (SOE), in his mission to find the traitor jeopardising the Allies’ plans in the Middle East during World War II. In this sequel to their previous adventure evading Nazi forces in Paris, Rosie must pretend her widowed father is an Egyptologist who has travelled to Cairo to make arrangements for the transport of antiquities in case of invasion. Along the way she meets many new people, including local agent Asim, whose daughter Fatima is unaware of her father’s links to SOE’s spy network. Fatima, an aspiring Egyptologist, resents the idea of Egypt’s treasures being removed from the country, and Rosie faces a difficult dilemma: does she protect her father’s identity as a spy so he can succeed in his mission? Or does she reassure her new friend that they have no intention of taking precious historical artefacts away from their country of origin and risk the traitor’s escape?

Mission to Cairo is a fast-paced narrative which travels quickly from the English countryside to the Egyptian desert and also to Rosie’s country of birth, India, through her memories of living there with her mother, who is now deceased. The geography of each country is described in a way that shows their similarities and differences, and historical context is provided, for example to help the reader understand the strategic importance of the Middle East and Suez Canal during World War II. Throughout the novel, Rosie has to face a range of challenges, for example dealing with bereavement, keeping secrets and doing one’s duty for the greater good. Her aunt’s position as queen of her home kingdom means that Rosie is in fact a princess, but she has to hide this, along with her and her father’s religious beliefs as Muslims, in order to protect the mission. Key themes also include colonialism, imperialism and bigotry, explored in part through reference to Rosie’s aunt’s support of Ghandi in India, Fatima’s anger at the idea of more treasures being taken out of the country to be placed in foreign museums and Rosie’s paternal family’s refusal to accept her mother or her culture.

Told over the course of 27 short chapters, Rosie Raja: Mission to Cairo would make an exciting class novel, with plenty of cliffhangers to use as prompts for creative predictions. It would also work well in guided or independent reading sessions for readers aged 10+.

Longlisted for the Young Quills Award 2024 For Readers Aged 8-11 Years Category