Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

August 31, 2009

Extra Credit

By Andrew Clements
Rating: 4 stars

Another solid hit from the master of school stories. Abby doesn't like school--well, except for the rock-climbing wall in gym class. Otherwise, she barely hands in her homework. But when Abby gets a letter recommending she repeat sixth grade, horror sets in. Her teachers tell her she has to do all of her homework, maintain a B average for the rest of the year AND do an extra credit project if she wants to move on to seventh grade. Abby can do nothing but agree and her extra credit project turns out to be to become a pen pal to someone in another country, complete with a bulletin board display and oral report. Abby ends up writing to a village in Afghanistan simply because there are mountains nearby. The village teacher asks the elders if Sadeed, the best student in class and certainly the best in English, can answer the letter. But the elders say no, it is not proper for a boy to write to a girl! No, Sadeed's little sister can answer the letter, and Sadeed can help oversee her work to make sure it is good. Sadeed can't believe he has to help to write back to an American girl, but despite himself, he becomes interested. When his sister dictates her letter, Sadeeds adds some other colorful details. Soon there are two dialogues going on; one that must be kept secret. Just when Abby and Sadeed are learning about each other's completely different cultures, an event occurs that changes everything. Can their newly formed friendship survive? This is a very interesting story which takes into account cultural differences as well as the unstable relationship the U.S. and Afghanistan have. Readers will like both Sadeed and Abby and even though the ending isn't quite happy, it isn't unhappy either. Very likeable and it may even inspire a few intrepid readers to look for their own foreign pen pals.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home