Sixth-grader Abby Carson would much rather explore outside than do her boring homework. But unless she wants to fail sixth grade, Abby has to buckle down and work for some Extra Credit
in class. Her assignment is to find a penpal from another country, exchange letters, and create a report about her new friend. Abby picks Afghanistan because it has mountains–not like her boring farm town in Illinois. Abby dutifully writes a letter to a village school, hoping to get the project done as painlessly as possible. Sadeed Bayat is chosen to reply to her letter because he is the most fluent in English. But there’s a problem with that, a problem that Abby doesn’t even know about. Sayeed’s culture forbids correspondence between a boy and a girl, especially an American girl. In the process of completing the project, Abby and Sadeed come to know more about each other and themselves. The clash of cultures leads to a realistic conclusion. Clements always tells an engaging story, and also brings a human side to world events. Recommended for older elementary students.