Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Extra Credit

Extra Credit

Fall 2009 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Andrew Clements
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1416949291
Hardcover Price: $16.99
Review:
Andrew Clements' poignant novel traces the correspondence of two 6th-graders, one American and one Afghani, across two cultures and 7000 miles. As the title implies, the letter writing begins as a school project for Abby, a struggling student in the mid-western United States. Her penpal is Sadeed, chosen by his progressive-minded teacher as one of the brightest students in his community. However, because of the strict laws governing gender relations in Afghanistan, Sadeed's correspondence with a young American girl must be kept secret from the village elders. Clements' story raises interesting topics such as women's rights, cultural differences and the ongoing struggle for peace in the Middle East. The shadow of violence is in the background of Sadeed's story; for example, at one point he mentions to Abby that there hasn't been a bombing in his village in six months, which feels to him like progress. Abby's more domestic issues are handled no less skillfully, and Clements, a former public schoolteacher, understands her struggles.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.


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