Cosima Unfortunate Steals A Star by Laura Noakes
Published: May 25th 2023 by Harper Collins Children’s Books
Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
Genre: Middle Grade // Contemporary
Quick Thoughts: I cannot tell you just how magical, fun, needed and spectacular this book is.
About The Book:
Exciting, funny, moving – and featuring joyous and authentic disabled representation – Cosima Unfortunate Steals a Star, is the middle-grade debut of 2023.
Cosima Unfortunate has spent all her life at the Home for Unfortunate Girls – a school where any disabled children, or children deemed different, are sent, whether their families want it or not. It is there that she meets her friends – Pearl, Mary and Diya – and they start to practise mini heists involving the theft of cakes, biscuits and other sweet goodies.
But when Cos finds out that Lord Francis Fitzroy, the explorer behind the Empire Exhibition, is planning to adopt them, she and her friends plot the biggest heist of their life. Instead of fondant fancies, they’re going to steal Fitzroy’s prized tiara, containing the legendary Star Diamond of India! But, as they start preparing for the day, Cosima finds herself drawing ever closer to discovering the one secret she’s always wanted to know – the truth about her parents…
I met Laura online quite a few years now, and through social media saw so much of the hard work and prep that went into this stunning novel (And I’m so proud!) So, of course when Laura asked if I wanted to read it early, I jumped—as my first official 2023 read, I knew it was bound to be special.
At the Home for Unfortunate Girls, Cosima—Cos for short—has lived all of her life within the confines of daily chores and schoolwork, sheltered away from society like the other girls at the home. They have been told by The Stains, who run the home with wickedness, that they don’t belong in public. That because they are disabled, or appear different, that they must stay there, whether their families want that or not—it’s the only way. But that doesn’t stop Cos and her friends dreaming about life and dreams beyond the home, conducting mini heists, pranks and inventions to make their lives better and happier for themselves. Whilst all the other girls have families, or even relatives out there, Cos isn’t called Number One for nothing—she was the first at the home as a baby and has no one to even consider visiting one day.
But when a rare visitor, an explorer and creator of the Empire Exhibition, turns up at the home and sparks an interest in them, namely wanting to “adopt” them, called Lord Francis Fitzroy, Cos, Diya, Mary and Pearl—among their other friends—are horrified, especially since it seems to not be an adoption, but something rather sinister. It takes all their courage and strength, the group banding together to plan the biggest heist of their lives to solve a deeply rooted mystery that surrounds not only Lord Francis Fitzroy and the Stains, but how it ties into Cosima’s past, and maybe even her future.
Overall, Cosima Unfortunate Steals A Star was one of those reads that feels like a warm hug. I was taken on a whirlwind ride of clever inventions, beautiful friendships and a magnificent story that soared as high as the starry night sky. I adored the connection between Cos and her friends (especially Diya) and Myles was a lovely addition to the gang. As someone with a chronic illness and anxiety disorder since I was young I found myself seeing so many similarities in lots of the girls, whether it was chronic pain or the sadness that comes with judgement from people sometimes, and it just made me feel so deeply. I cannot tell you just how magical, fun, needed and spectacular this book is. This will be your favourite Middle Grade book of the year. Five stars doesn’t feel like enough!
About The Author
Laura Noakes is a disabled writer and historian from Bedfordshire. She has written articles for Disability in Kidlit and KettleMag, and her poetry has been published in Scrittura Magazine. She was awarded her doctorate in legal history in 2021, and works at the best-named museum in Scotland, The Devil’s Porridge. She lives in beautiful Cumbria with her husband, Connor, and cats Scout and Sunny.