audiobook, Date reviewed: 4/5/04
There are several video trailers made by fans available online
Summary: Parvana is a young girl in modern Afghanistan. She, her mother, and older sister are rarely allowed to leave the house for fear of the Taliban and the treatment of women. Parvana is allowed to accompany her father to the marketplace where he reads and writes letters for the illiterate. Typical sibling rivalry issues with Parvana’s older sister in cramped lodgings. When Parvana’s father is taken by the Taliban without reason, Parvana is the only one able to disguise herself as a boy in order to earn a living to feed her family.
Personal Reaction: Excellent realistic novel, especially good for recent world events. No foul language, but violence and the expectation of violence offer grim reminders of how women live in Afghanistan. The audiobook’s narrator speaks English perfectly, but with the Afghan accent – much better suited to read alouds.
Points for discussion with children: Afghanistan, Taliban, women’s rights, poverty/hunger, arranged marriages, brutality of war
Possible classroom uses: This would be a good read aloud or novel study for Social Studies teachers (whether teaching Middle East topics or current events) or for Language Arts team teaching with Social Studies teachers. Discuss how good women have it here (or even how bad it can be to have such freedoms).
Connections to other books? sequels: Parvana’s Journey and Mud City; Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind and Haveli by Staples; Habibi by Nye; Homeless Bird by Whelan; Broken Moon by Antieau and The Shadows of Ghadames by Stolz. I would stick with non-American novels that deal with the roles of women as opposed to a broad discussion of what girls can/cannot (present or past) do in the US. Jyotirmayee Mohapatra (Young Heroes) by Woog and Shirin Ebadi: Champion for Human Rights in Iran (Modern Peacemakers) might be good biographies to pair.
Items to display with book: traditional Afghanistan dress (clothing examples or photographs); example of a Bourka; books on Afghanistan, Taliban, etc.; pen/pencil and paper tablet w/envelope; example of a personal letter written in Afghani’s language (investigate the 2 languages spoken/read by Parvana and father)
Food items connected to story: rice, tea