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‘A charming, delightful and original story that kept me smiling the whole way through. Hayek has created a cast of unique and memorable characters – from the precocious, funny, daring Huda, to the big-hearted, patient Akeal, to the intriguing Aunt Amel. What I love most about this story is its mischief, its spirit of adventure and its irresistible invitation to young readers to embrace a story that is familiar at times, and wonderfully fresh and new at others.’


‘Big adventure, big laughs and big heart. Huda and Me is exactly what #OzMG needs more of. One minute you’re laughing out loud and the next you’re wiping away a cheeky tear. Hayek delivers everything contemporary middle grade could hope for. Cheeky, hilarious, heartfelt and with an authenticity only #OwnVoices authors can offer, Huda and Me will have you on the edge of your aeroplane seat!’


‘Sparkling with mischief, adventure and family love, Huda and Me is a gem of a story. Hayek writes with warmth, humour and a keen understanding of children’s capacity for loyalty and courage. A brilliant new talent in Australian children’s literature.’


‘Huda and Me is a fresh and tender tale that will leave an imprint on your heart. This book will make you chuckle, gasp and may leave you teary-eyed. I’m sure readers will relate to Akeal’s hilarious and loving family, led by the loud and proud Huda. I absolutely adore this book and can’t wait for this fresh voice to be unleashed in the kid lit scene!’


First published by Allen & Unwin in 2021

Copyright © Huda Hayek 2021

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to the Copyright Agency (Australia) under the Act.

Allen & Unwin

83 Alexander Street

Crows Nest NSW 2065


Phone: (61 2) 8425 0100

Email: [email protected]


ISBN 978 1 76052 602 3

eISBN 978 1 76106 134 9

For teaching resources, explore

Cover and text design by Debra Billson

Cover and text images: girl & boy © Shutterstock/pikepicture; departures board © Shutterstock/ Hywit Dimyadi; benches & plane © Shutterstock/ ProStockStudio; suitcases © Shutterstock/ MuchMania; houses, clouds & trees © Shutterstock/ jenny on the moon

Author photo by Radiant Studio

Set by Midland Typesetters, Australia

For my mama and baba. For my boys.

Love you forever.

Little Pigeon, you were my backbone.


The Airport

Party’s Over

The Aeroplane

Mum and Dad Leave


The List


No Escape

The Incident

The Plan


Stealing the Stuff

Touchdown in Beirut

Time to Leave


On Our Way

Meeting Jido and Tayta


The Journey Back Home

Afterword: Four Days Later


About the Author

The Airport

She’s sitting in the airport lounge, fiddling with our tickets. I can tell she’s excited because she has a little smile on her face and she keeps glancing at her pink digital watch. I can’t believe we’re doing this. I can’t believe we’re running away from home. Well, we’re not really running away. We’ll come back. We’re running to our parents. On the other side of the world. We’re getting out of Melbourne, because it all became too much. At least for Huda. And I’m an idiot for agreeing to go with her. But I need to make sure she doesn’t do anything stupid, or get herself into some kind of mess.

We’ll be dead meat if we’re caught before we reach Lebanon. We’ll be in trouble with Aunt Amel, with our principal and with the police. Not to mention what Mum and Dad will do if they find out before we can explain. Thinking about it now makes me nervous. I check the time on my watch. Fifteen minutes until boarding.

Huda’s looking at the red tag around her neck, trying to read the words. I can see her lips moving as she sounds out the letters.

‘Akeal,’ she calls to me, more loudly than she needs to. She’s sitting with her legs crossed on the fancy purple couch opposite me, like she’s watching telly at home. Her school backpack is on the floor next to her, half open. Two dolls’ heads poke out. I told her not to pack any toys. ‘What’s un-accompeed minor mean?’

Un-accompeed. I want to tell her it means someone who goes to pee without help.

‘It means you don’t have an adult with you,’ I say, shaking my head.

She looks at me with her black eyes and smiles. A naughty smile. She knows her plan is going perfectly. Huda might not be the smartest kid in her class, but I don’t know any other nine-year-old who would steal a credit card and convince an airline to let her fly to the other side of the world.

As I sigh at my little sister, the announcement is made: ‘All children travelling on flight XFL60 to Lebanon, please board at the gate now.’

Huda grins. She grabs her bag and zips it shut. Then she pulls her crumpled plane ticket from her pocket and tries to smooth the creases from it. She looks at me, still smiling. I want to stick my fingers in her dimples and see how deep they’ll go.

‘Are you ready, brother?’

In a way, she says the word brother to tease me, but I know she’s also reminding me that I have to stay with her because she’s two years younger than me.

‘I guess so. Let’s see if they actually let us on this plane.’

Huda doesn’t wait for me while I pull my own plane ticket out of my pocket. In the flash of an eye, she’s in the queue with the other kids waiting to board. The problem is, all those kids are with their parents. You might even think

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