Monday, February 14, 2011

First Mix N' Match Monday

Here is my first post on a Monday.  I have a couple of good books to share that complement each other nicely.  The common denominator is Afghanistan, a relevant topic these days.


Extra Credit
By Andrew Clements
Atheneum, 2009
192 pgs.
Reviewed from purchased copy

Abby Carson has perfected the art of homework avoidance.  It's not that she can't do it, she just finds other things more enticing.  She discovers to her shock, however, that unless she can make up some of the missing work, she will be held back a year.  Abby finds herself working on a project involving a pen pal from Afghanistan.

Sadeed loves his schoolwork and is the best student in his class, but he cannot correspond with Abby directly, because she is a girl.  His younger sister is given the task of corresponding with Abby, but Sadeed finds himself intrigued with the American girl and starts writing to her himself. 

Both students find themselves fascinated by the experiences of the other.  They soon discover that not all people are willing and able to be so open and accepting.  This book provides a glimpse of a lifestyle and culture very different from that of many children in the United States.  Clements does a good job of giving the reader characters to root for and an opportunity to realize that people from other cultures can connect with each other if they are willing to try.

Afghan Dreams: Young Voices of Afghanistan
Tony O'Brien and Mike Sullivan
Photographs by Tony O'Brien
Bloomsbury Children's Book
Reviewed from purchased book

The blurb from the book says, "Award-winning photojournalist Tony O'Brien and filmmaker Mike Sullivan went to Afghanistan to interview and photograph children of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, and with very different daily lives.  As each one tells his or her story, the reader is placed in the middle of everyday life as it is lived by the children of one of the world's most enduringly conflict-ridden countries."

Children from Afghanistan have many of the same dreams that children from the United States have, but they also deal with severe struggles.  This book opens a window to give a glimpse of some of these dreams and struggles.  Examples include Wahaab, age 10, and Shaheen, age 10, who turned to thievery hoping to earn enough to help provide for their families and now find themselves facing the prospect of jail.  Then there is Nasi, who sells plastic boxes in the morning and studies music and math in the afternoons, who hopes to become a teacher.

It's difficult to read this book without wanting to help.  Pennies for Peace offers a way for us, who have so much, to help those who have so little, but who dream so big.

 

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