Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nasreen's Secret School ~ by Jeanette Winter, 2009

What would it be like, as a child, to watch soldiers drag your father away? What would it feel like when your mother finally goes searching for him -- and never comes back? "Nasreen never spoke a word. She never smiled. She just sat, waiting for her mama and papa to return."

Nasreen's grandmother eventually enrolled her in a secret school for girls.  Even though women and girls were forbidden by the Taliban to venture out without a man to chaperone them, her grandmother managed to get her through the streets to the green gate, and Nasreen sat silently through the lessons.  I won't give away the whole story, but my favorite part was when boys would divert any soldiers who came near the green gate.

This picture book has an author's note at the beginning for the adults.  Afghanistan before the Taliban was a good place for women, who made up 70% of the teachers, 40% of doctors, and 50% of students at Kabul University.  Nasreen's parents and grandmother were educated, and her grandmother wanted Nasreen to learn as well.  I rate this children's book 8 of 10, a very good book.


susan said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I just finished a three books about young girls and their thirst for an education and I'm reading a memoir of Shirin Elbawbi who was stripped of her judgeship in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Do check out my 2010 Challenge updates. I have read several titles but little time to write proper reviews.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Susan, I have just completed (and not yet reviewed) Deborah Ellis's trilogy about Afghanistan:

The Breadwinner (2001)
Parvana's Journey (2002)
Mud City (2003)

These are about little girls having to pretend to be boys to make a living for their families -- because girls and women were forbidden by the Taliban to be out of their homes without a man or a boy to chaperone them.

Kathleen said...

Wow that sounds like an unbelievably good but also sad book.