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Children's Fiction Self-esteem & Self-reliance

The Unlovable Alina Butt

by (author) Ambreen Butt-Hussain

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
May 2023
Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, General, Diversity & Multicultural, Humorous Stories
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Fitting in at a new school is hard enough, but when you’re an awkward, big-nosed, nerdy Pakistani girl with a funny last name, it can seem impossible.

Eleven-year-old Alina Butt has changed schools four times already since her family moved to England from Pakistan. Even after all that practice, she doesn’t seem to be getting any better at being the new kid. Mocked for her last name and her "weird" lunches, Alina has had enough! Taking a leap of faith to try and stand out for the "right" reasons, Alina auditions for the school play. Her hopes of landing the lead role in Cinderella are dashed when her new friend gets the part of Cinderella instead...and her bully is cast as Prince Charming!

Alina must rely on her stubborn will and wacky sense of humor to survive the endlessly embarrassing and ridiculous situations she finds herself in and discover her own unique way to shine!

The epub edition of this title is fully accessible.

About the author

Ambreen Butt-Hussain was born in Pakistan but lived in England and Scotland before finally settling in Canada. She has a bachelor of science from the University of Toronto and a master of education from Queen’s University. She currently teaches elementary school and lives in Milton, Ontario.

Ambreen Butt-Hussain's profile page


  • Commended, CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection

Editorial Reviews

“A highly entertaining story…This charming novel will appeal to every kid who has ever struggled to find their place in the universe.”

Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) Canadian Children’s Book News

“This charming, eye-opening book highlights not only the struggles of an immigrant girl, but the power that comes from seeing things through someone else’s eyes.”

School Library Journal (SLJ)

“Introduces important issues to young readers…Readers will come away with an understanding that we are really not that different from one another after all. Recommended.”

School Library Connection

“A charming middle-grade novel that tackles themes of self-acceptance, cultural identity, and navigating the often-treacherous waters of friendship and belonging…Butt-Hussain’s writing is warm and engaging, peppered with moments of humour and genuine emotion…This is a celebration of courage, individuality, and the transformative power of friendship. It’s a book that will remind you that even the most “unloveable” among us have a unique voice worth cherishing.”

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“In this charming, tightly plotted debut, Alina’s witty, vulnerable narratorial voice guides readers through her intensely authentic personal evolution.”

Kirkus Reviews

“An endearing, spunky protagonist whose personality is realistically developed.”


“The author manages to touch on bullying, self-confidence, harassment and consent... Readers will be able to empathize with Alina’s struggles to fit in, and the triumphant ending for all the characters leaves the hope that things will always get better. Recommended.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials