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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (3,129 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrew Clements Narrator: Gabra Zackma Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her schoolwork, it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back -- for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Simple enough (even for a girl who hates homework).

Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal....Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know.

As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different lifestyles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not so simple. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “This is an important book, especially in the atmosphere of general distrust of foreigners here and throughout the world. Clements is a fine writer and captures teenage angst well...This book is very well done!” 

    Children’s Literature

  • “Clements successfully bridges two cultures in this timely and insightful dual-perspective story...Clements effectively broadens his canvas in this worthy addition to his oeuvre of school-themed novels.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “As she quietly depicts each child’s life, thoughts, and letters, Zackman allows listeners to draw their own insights about culture, gender, and personal values, including the question of what an education is worth.”


  • “Clements offers readers an engaging and realistic school story and provides an evenhanded comparison between a Midwestern girl’s lifestyle and a culture currently in the news.”

    School Library Journal

  • Part of the Beehive Award Master List

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Victoria | 2/17/2014

    " Excellent! Great information about writing pen pal letters, and interesting information about Afghanastan "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Virginia Brace | 2/15/2014

    " Very well done, as usual, by Andrew Clements. Acceptable (PC)information about Afghanistan and the way people live in small villages there. The very bright youngsters, Sadeed and Abby manage to outwit their elders and learn quite a bit about each others' feelings even though correspondence between and boy and a girl is forbidden. Those kids who have always thought it great to have a Pen Pal from a foreign country will definitely want to have one after reading this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Kesha | 2/11/2014

    " This is an enlightening read about the cultural differences between Americans and Afghanistanis. Young people will learn to value the liberties our country affords us as well as gain an appreciation of the natural beauty and some cultural aspects of the Middle East through correspondences between Abbey and Shaba in Abbey's attempt to graduate sixth grade. As the plot progresses ignorant and narrow minded remarks are made on behalf of opposition to each culture, but readers will hopefully walk away from this read with a viewpoint that their are pros and cons to every society. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Monika Kristen | 2/8/2014

    " Andrew Clements always does a great job of creating stories that school-aged children can identify with. I liked how he created this common ground between two students who were from very different places that were at war with one another. This novel of Clements' is great for the classroom because it can be integrated into an intercultural lesson and can bring about some great discussion about people of other cultures. "

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