World Book Day But its Not fair

World Book Day But it’s Not fair


Aneeta Prem Human Rights Champion and author working with a group of young people who all chose Sophia as their character for World Book Day A short biography of Sophia from Prem’s book

So here goes, all about me, me, me… 35 I’m 10. I’m not a heart-stopping beauty but I will be. I have lovely shiny golden-brown skin. My hair is so long, if I’m not careful it could end up wet when I go to the loo. It’s almost to my waist. I am going to be a better-looking version of Princess Catherine or even Aishwarya Rai. She’s my favourite Asian superstar. And I expect I’ll have Hollywood superstars fighting over me. I’ll be on TV flicking my hair and saying “Because I’m worth it.” I’ll be caught on camera by all the paparazzi desperate to get me on the front cover of every magazine. I don’t tell lies. I tell stories and sometimes (well mostly) I add on a bit to make them more interesting.

There is a thin line between truth and lies. But embellishing a story isn’t lying! (I looked embellishing up Miss!)

I was born in a London hospital. The only good thing about being born in Bethnal Green is that I am a real live cockney ‘cos I was born within the sound of Bow Bells.

I’m dead proud of that. I make my cockney accent heavier than it really is as it’s so cool. My big sister Vinny doesn’t have a cockney accent, she talks dead proper English like our parents. While Mum carried me in her tummy, my sister Vinny was asked by Dad and Mum’s friends if she wanted a baby brother or sister.

My Dad and Mum wanted a baby brother to make the family complete and for Dad. Oh, and someone to take care of Mum and Dad in their old age. As Indians, it’s our duty to take care of our parents as they took care of us and made all those sacrifices for us (though I think this isn’t fair as we didn’t ask to be born). So, Vinny would say she wanted a baby sister so she could dress me up like a baby doll. Vinny didn’t know any boys and I think she was a bit scared of them. She prayed every night for a baby sister to play with. Mum and Dad were upset and wanted her to change her prayers to ones asking for a brother. Mum was sad that she gave birth to a daughter. Dad told her not to be so silly. It didn’t make any difference.

Mum said that if we lived in India, she would have had another try because that was easy as they had tons of servants in India. And I must have guessed all this because from before I can remember I tried to be like a real son. Tough and loud. I’m pleased because my Mum, who is called Jasmine, is still really young and pretty. She cooks great food and after she finishes work on Saturdays at 36 37 around 1 o’clock, she stops off to buy bread from the bakery and it’s usually still hot. We rush around her and dive in trying to pick bits off, but she waves her arms around and cuts the bread into really thick slices, putting on loads of butter that melts instantly. It’s our weekly treat and we scoff the lot.

She might bring home cakes too, or bread pudding or apple pies. They’re not as good as next-door-Auntie’s but they’re still welcome. We wish we could have hot bread every day, but next-door-Auntie says it’s bad for us to eat really hot bread as it will give us all tummy ache. It’s not fair to tell such fibs! We never get tummy ache no matter how much hot bread we eat. Adults are always saying these things. Always warning us about things that never happen.

They don’t know as much as they say they do. I’m not supposed to, but when I get home from school, I go to see next-door-Auntie and she makes me tea. She’s the best cook in the world apart from Dad and Mum. She makes tons of great stuff to eat. Eggs and chips, stews, cakes and roast dinners.

Vinny and I love her cooking. It isn’t spicy, quite plain really, but better than school dinners. Next-door-Auntie lives alone. Mum and Dad have kind of adopted her as our Gran. I’ve never met my real Gran but next-door-Auntie will do just fine for now. Her name is Grace Dawn. Her poor old husband died soon after they were married.

We don’t really talk about him much. I always tap on her kitchen window and peer through to see if she’s got any chips on the go. I shout, “Oooh oooh Auntie shall I come in?” She loves my company and all my stories. Dad says she’s really lonely so she’s lucky we moved in next door to her. Mum grumbles that she spends more time in our flat than her own. I wish I could call her Granny, but from when I was little, I’ve always said next-door-Auntie so it seems odd to change now. She pops over every night at around 7 o’clock so Mum has a chance to get in and put the dinner on. Then the landing is full of the smell of our tea and all of the neighbours know what we are eating. Some of them don’t like it much but I don’t care, except when

Mum cooks saag (spinach and mustard leaves that are boiled for hours in the noisy pressure cooker). Then it just pongs and the taste is worse than boiled bogeys. My big sister Vinny pretends to love the torturous saag. She says yum how lovely, Mummy.

My Mum’s Mum died when she was small, so Mum didn’t really learn how to do Mum-things. She never reads us stories and never makes fairy cakes, 38 though she does make great fake eggy bread with besan which is chickpea flour instead of eggs. She makes great onion omelettes too. They’re a bit smelly on your breath. But hot onion omelette on white bread with Heinz tomato ketchup and mmm,

I’m in heaven. On Sunday. she fries bread and dips it in sugary milky stuff that’s so yummy even though it looks soggy. We sit like baby birds squawking for more. Vinny is five years older than me and she is a right goody-two-shoes. She can cook whole meals from scratch and she can even make round rotis. She’s Mum’s favourite because she’s good and sweet and never shouts or screams or yells like I do. Vinny is very pretty.

She’s like an older version of me but a bit more filled out in the right places. She’s very clever and she loves reading. She’s a swot bag. I hate reading, so Vinny has to read to me. She reads the classics like Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I make her read any rude bits over and over again. Everyone is proud of the perfect Vinny.

She doesn’t mind playing games with me and normally lets me win too. She’s dead good at card tricks. And she knows some really good jokes. Some are a little rude and I love those best. I have to share a bedroom with Vinny. I don’t mind really. We talk late into the night with Vinny reading me bedtime stories, though Mum sometimes gets cross when she hears me roaring with laughter or practising my opera singing.

I could easily be an opera super star. I have a great voice so I don’t understand why everyone tells me to pipe down! We live on the third floor of the white flats opposite the railway arches in Bethnal Green which is in East London. We don’t have designer clothes, just High Street stuff and too many of our outfits are identical.

I hate that. I want to look like me, not a mini-me version of Vinny. I moan and plead with Mum to let me have my own style like Sasha does but clothes are a problem anyway as I am too thin for anything to fit. My Mum and Dad aren’t like other Mums and Dads. They work all the time and Mum even works on Saturday mornings. I suspect it’s because it gets her off doing the housework. Dad does all that. He drags us to Tesco to do the weekly shop then lets us choose a treat at least. Then we walk down to the market stalls and get food from the fruit and veg guy, and toilet rolls from another stall.

When we get home Vinny puts the shopping away and I get to vacuum. I love vacuuming ‘cos I can practice my opera singing. I think I could shatter 39 a glass if I sing even louder. I want to go on the X-Factor. Vinny calls it the Z-Factor, so I sing louder to annoy her. Mum gets home from sewing on a machine in a shoe factory all morning and she’s also an Avon lady except she never goes out and ding dongs. She only shows the Avon book to her friends at work. When the big Avon box comes, Vinny and I love to check it out. I love to sneak a squirt of this or a dab of that. Once Mum even won a beauty contest as the most beautiful Avon lady. She had a sari on and she had a sash with diamonds on it and I was really proud of my beautiful glamorous Mum.

She looked like a model (well, a five-foot-three model). On school days, Dad always rushes straight home from his translating work at the Council as fast as he can to be with us. He normally gets home by 5.30. Vinny and I get back from school earlier, and we’ve usually turned the house into a tip by that time.

When it’s nearly 5.30 I stand on the worktop in the kitchen and look out of the kitchen window, pulling at the net curtains to see out, and I can see Dad as he comes into view under the arches. Vinny and I frantically run around tidying up, and get out of our school uniform as Mum says we have to change as soon as we get home from school. On Friday nights, to celebrate the weekend, Dad buys us KitKats as a treat. He loves KitKats. Turkish Delights are his favourite, but he rarely buys them because they are much dearer.

Dad is super cool. He has a huge fan club outside the family as well. He’s great at sorting out people’s problems. Not like some soppy agony aunt. He’s more like a super hero. He never wears his underpants on the outside of his trousers of course. That would just be silly. But he’s a super hero nonetheless. My Dad isn’t like other Dad s and he tells great stories about his life. I think I’ve got his genes for exaggerating stories. But maybe he is telling the whole truth. Who knows. Sofia comes back with a plate of biscuits and I leap back on to the sofa. I don’t think she noticed me reading her work. The house is quiet as our parents are still napping. We’re not allowed to have the telly on, so I challenge her to a card game of Snap.


Young people who choose Sophia as their favourite character for World Book Day

Jamie,  12 – “Sophia: My Hero and Inspiration”

“Sophia’s adventures speak to me! It’s like she’s not just a character from ‘But It’s Not Fair’ – she’s a friend I look up to. Bravery, humour, and a big heart – she’s got it all. What gets me is how she makes standing up for yourself seem doable, no matter how young you are. Plus, her jokes? Absolutely top-notch. She’s shown me it’s cool to be kind and strong at the same time.”

Aaliyah,  13 – “Sophia: Lighting Up the Dark”

“Choosing Sophia as my top pick? Easy decision. Her blend of fierceness and relatability isn’t something you find just anywhere. Every challenge she faces, she does with a kind of bravery that makes me want to stand taller. She’s all about action, showing us that age is just a number when you’re fighting for what’s right. She’s changed how I see myself and my ability to make a difference.”

Max, 14 – “The Real Deal: Sophia”

“Sophia’s more than just words on a page; she’s a lifeline. Her courage in the face of adversity doesn’t just inspire – it moves you to act. You feel her struggles, and celebrate her wins, and through her eyes, you start to see the world differently. It’s not often a book pushes you to be better, to think deeper about justice and your place in the battle against it. ‘But It’s Not Fair’ did exactly that for me, thanks to Sophia.”

Ella,  15 – “Seeing Myself in Sophia”

“What struck me about Sophia wasn’t just her resilience or her quest for justice; it was how deeply her story resonated with my own experiences. She embodies hope, and her determination is contagious. Every page of ‘But It’s Not Fair’ felt like a call to find my own strength. Sophia’s journey is a powerful reminder that change starts with belief – in yourself, and in the possibility of a better world.”

Ryan,  16 – “Sophia: Catalyst for Change”

“‘But It’s Not Fair’ transcends the ordinary, largely due to Sophia. Her impact is palpable, pushing you to question, to engage, not just to be a bystander. Her vulnerabilities and her bravery offer a profound lesson in activism. Her story isn’t just to be read; it’s to be lived. Sophia has inspired me to look beyond my immediate world and strive for impactful change.”

Chloe, – “Sophia is Super!”

“Sophia is amazing because she’s like a superhero but real. She’s always helping and being really brave. I want to be brave just like her! She shows even if you’re little, you can do big things to help others. Sophia is the best!”

Oliver,  – “Sophia’s Adventures”

“I think Sophia is the bravest person ever. She’s not scared of anything and always fights for what’s right. She’s taught me that being brave isn’t about not feeling scared; it’s about standing up even when you are. Sophia is like a knight in shining armour, but even cooler because she’s just like us!”

Mia, – “Sophia Shows We Can All Be Heroes”

“Wow, Sophia is just incredible! She makes me believe that anyone can make a difference. Her story isn’t just for fun; it teaches us how to stand up for what we believe in. Sophia has made me want to help others and be a better person.”

Ethan,  11 – “Sophia: The Voice of Courage”

“Who knew a book character could feel like a best mate? Sophia’s bravery and her knack for standing up for what’s right is inspiring. It’s cool to see someone my age making such a big splash. She’s taught me that you don’t need to be a grown-up to make a real difference.”

Lily, 11 – “Sophia: My New Best Friend”

“Sophia is like the friend I’ve always wanted. Brave, smart, and always ready to help. Reading about her makes me want to be just as brave. She shows that you can change the world no matter how young you are. This book isn’t just a story; it’s a lesson on how to be awesome.”