As I mentioned yesterday, I recently finished "Extra Credit" by Andrew Clements. I loved SO many things about this book. Where to begin...
Teachers or school librarians can use this book to introduce a letter writing unit, either around the world or close to home, or a letter writing project to a character or an author. Another great book for author letter writing is Beverly Cleary's "Dear Mr. Henshaw."
Abby, the character who lives in America, loves to rock climb on the climbing wall in the gym at her school. We recently got a climbing wall at our school. It is not 30 feet tall like the wall at Baldridge Elementary School, but the kids here seem to like it just the same. My husband helped our physical education teacher set up the wall as he works at Doylestown Rock Gym and loves to climb himself. So, kids who enjoy or are interested in climbing will like to read why Abby chose to write to a student in Afghanistannimstead of one of the other two countries that were possible choices, how climbing makes her feel, and the technicalities of some of the knots and the names of different pieces of gear needed for climbing.
Anyone with an interest in current events will love this book as well. Details of some of the past conflicts in Sadeed's village are well constructed for middle grade readers. And events are portrayed realistically regarding how people in Afghanistan and in Illinois might feel about these two students writing to each other. Cultural norms are seamlessly woven into the writing to give both perspectives for each country.
Anyone who read Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea, Stones into Schools, or Listen to the Wind will appreciate Clements' ability to tell a tale of education across the globe in Afghanistan and right here in the US. The similarities and differences are striking.
The growth of the characters is profound and the power of a pen pal is well portrayed.
I've enjoyed reading everything Andrew Clements has written that resides in our school library. Now it's on to what we don't have...yet. School Story, Janitor's Boy, and his newest book, Troublemaker, will be coming up on the blog soon.