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One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi.

August 18, 2016 Comments off

half eastOne Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi. Pub. HarperCollins, 2016.

Directed at 8-12 year olds this is one of the most enlightening and moving stories I have read for sometime .

Obayda is a 10 year old Afghan girl living with her two older sisters and parents in Kabul. It is a more enlightened Kabul than under the Taliban but still very restrictive for girls and women.

A car bomb takes the leg of Obayda’s father and they move to a small village where the father takes to his bed. All are concerned until an aunt approaches Abayda with a proposition to turn her into a bacha posh. What is this you ask? Well it is an old Afghan custom of turning a girl into a boy to change the fortunes of a family or household.

A boy is good luck, a boy can work and earn money and a boy will do more for Obayda’s father than any doctor could. The trouble is Abayda likes being a girl, she likes dancing and pretty clothes and enjoys being with her sisters. As the story evolves and Abayd gets better at being and doing what a boy does, the distance between her and her sisters widens.

Obayda becomes Obayd, one small letter makes all the difference. Her hair is shaved off, she wears boys clothes and goes to a boys’ school. But this doesn’t make her a boy. She struggles until she meets older boy Rahim. He tells her he is like her and that being a boy is more than what is in your pants. Obayd starts to get it, but then Rahim tells her he is never going to change back to a girl. Read the rest yourself.

Sensitively and simply told. This is one of my books of the year.

 

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

October 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo. Pub.HarperCollins, 2010.

A lovely story this but then all Michael Morpurgo novels are lovely. This one is very current as it concerns the conflict in Afghanistan with the Taliban.

As always there is an animal in the story playing a crucial role. This time it is a Springer Spaniel named Shadow but as we find out later in the story, her real name is Polly.

Matt is a young English boy who has a friend from Afghanistan called Aman. When Aman and his mother are taken to Yarls Wood detention Centre with a view to being deported back to Afghanistan, Matt enlists the help of his ex journalist grandfather to help out.

What evolves is a story that can apply to many of the world’s refugees who have been through extreme hardship, will be killed if they return to their home country and who are not wanted by the country they seek refugee status in.

Set in Bamiyan Province where the Taliban destroyed those magnificient statues of Bubbha, thankfully I saw them in the 1970’s and they were incredible. The New Zealand contingent in Afghanistan are working in Bamiyan.

Add in a dog who Aman and his family befriend, a dog not found normally in Afghanistan and one who the locals condemn as a “foreign dog”. This dog has a history and becomes crucial to the outcome of this story.

Great story that will help children get an insight to a world wide problem of refugees. We are all human beings aren’t we?

Suitable middle to Intermediate school, but it is such a good yarn older kids would love it too.