Thursday, July 30, 2009

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Mark Ellio

This is the story of Abby Carson, a sixth grader from flat Illinois. She loves the outdoors, and her school recently put in a rock climbing wall that secured gym class as her favorite activity at school. She is a smart girl, but doesn't "apply" herself in her academic studies. Her actions (or lack thereof), lead her the the strong possibility of being held back next year and not going on to Jr. high with her friends.

This is also the story of Sadeed Bayat, a young boy who lives in hilly Afghanistan. Sadeed attends a small school where he is one of the brightest in his class, the best writer, and very fluent in English. Sadeed goes to school and also works at his father's booth in the town bazaar.

How in the world do these two kids' paths cross? When one of Abby's teachers offers her an extra credit project to help save her grades she begins writing to Sadeed's sister Amira as a pen pal project. Through letters, these kids see what it is like for someone else on the other side of the world, and make a new friend in the process.

What I Thought:

I think this book is a wonderful book, and one with a bit of a different twist of the school stories that Clement is so well-known for. I loved how he incorporated a student from another country. I especially appreciate how that student lives in Afghanistan, which I think is a country that we need to learn more about.

I feel that we sometimes think of this country and other Middle Eastern countries as "bad" or the "enemy" because all we hear about is the war and such. However, there are millions of innocent people who are simply trying to live their lives out to the best of their ability. I love how Clements included a character doing this in this book.

This may be one of my favorite Clements books yet...a great read aloud to a classroom. What a great resource for a social studies/geography project and how neat would it be to start a pen pal program to go along with the book?

Very highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Extra Credit by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Mark Elliott.

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