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Simon & Schuster / 2009 / Hardcover

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Product Description

It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her school work; it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back -- for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Simple enough (even for a girl who hates homework).

Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal.... Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know.

As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different lifestyles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not so simple.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2009
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1416949291
ISBN-13: 9781416949299
Ages: 8-12

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Publisher's Description

It isn’t that Abby Carson can’t do her schoolwork. She just doesn’t like doing it. And in February a warning letter arrives at her home. Abby will have to repeat sixth grade—unless she meets some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project to find a pen pal in a distant country. Seems simple enough. But when Abby’s first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, the village elders agree that any letters going back to America must be written well. In English. And the only qualified student is a boy, Sadeed Bayat. Except in this village, it is not proper for a boy to correspond with a girl. So Sadeed’s younger sister will write the letters. Except she knows hardly any English. So Sadeed must write the letters. For his sister to sign. But what about the villagers who believe that girls should not be anywhere near a school? And what about those who believe that any contact with Americans is . . . unhealthy? Not so simple. But as letters flow back and forth—between the prairies of Illinois and the mountains of central Asia, across cultural and religious divides, through the minefields of different lifestyles and traditions—a small group of children begin to speak and listen to one another. And in just a few short weeks, they make important discoveries about their communities, about their world, and most of all, about themselves.

Author Bio

Andrew Clements is the author of more than fifty books for children, including the New York Times bestsellers No Talking and Lunch Money and the enormously popular Frindle. He lives with his wife in western Massachusetts and has four grown children. Visit andrewclements.com. Mark Elliott is the illustrator of many books for young readers, including No Talking by Andrew Clements. He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

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