Aliya to the Infinite City by Laila Rifaat

Aliya to the Infinite City – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Family, magic, loss, time travel.
Children’s book title: Aliya to the Infinite City.
Children’s author: Laila Rifaat.
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy.
Published by: Chicken House.
ISBN: 9781915026354.
Recommended for children aged: 9-12 year-olds.
First published: Paperback February 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Confident readers who enjoy longer books.

Aliya to the Infinite City by Laila Rifaat

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Our review:

Aliya has lived with her beloved grandfather, Geddo, in Cairo, Egypt, since her parents were killed when she was five. Geddo’s behaviour has changed recently, however, and they have almost been in hiding, moving from their home without warning more than once and on her eleventh birthday he’s nowhere to be seen.

When a mysterious package arrives for Aliya everything changes and she’s soon enrolled in a school for time travellers in a parallel Egyptian universe! Finding herself studying alongside classmates whose talents have been encouraged since early childhood puts her at a distinct disadvantage but she realises this is where an exciting re-imagined future could lie. However, danger is lurking and Aliya’s new life is put in jeopardy. Can she fight against an enemy she can’t see or will everyone’s past, present, and future be changed because of her?

Aliya to the Infinite City by Laila Rifaat spread 1

Our verdict:

This is an exciting, fast-moving, but long, book at 439 pages. It has less explanation of country-specific customs, foods, and pronunciation than some other titles in the 9 -12 year age group and, for me at least, would be helped by a glossary. The main protagonist, with help, cheats to get what she wants and although dealt with in one respect this doesn’t result in any punishment, meaning Aliya can continue to study at the school after everything is discovered.

The storyline provides a page-turning adventure and everything is explained eventually apart from the things previously discussed. It’s worth mentioning that my ten-year-old granddaughter didn’t know what an alternate universe was but liked the sound of the book regardless. I wouldn’t recommend it to her for a year or so as I think the length and concept would be more suited to an 11+ age group.

Aliya to the Infinite City by Laila Rifaat spread 2

Teaching points and book club discussion ideas:

  • It has an exciting storyline with enticing cliffhangers which could be suitable for reading aloud although some chapters are quite lengthy.
  • Read a free extract.

Many thanks to Chicken House for the review copy.

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If you like Aliya to the Infinite City by Laila Rifaat you might also like: our reviews of Alyssa and the Spell Garden by Alexandra Sheppard, Time Travellers: Adventure Calling by Sufiya Ahmed, The Thief of Farrowfell by Ravena Guron and The Magician’s Map by Mikki Lish and Kelly Ngai.

Browse our list of books for children in year 7

About Tracy Wood

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I am a voracious reader and used to be a learning support assistant in a senior school for eight years before leaving to home school my now adult daughter. I have ten grandchildren who I love reading to and spending time with. Reviews by Tracy Wood