Nasreen’s Secret School

Nasreen’s Secret School: a True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter

The author of The Librarian of Basra brings readers another true story from the Middle East.  This is the story of Nasreen, a young Afghan girl who has not spoken since her parents disappeared.  Her grandmother hears about a school for girls which is secret and forbidden.  In the hopes of bringing Nasreen out of her silence, her grandmother enrolls her.  The girls attending the school must be clever.  They must leave alone or in small groups.  They must hide their schoolwork if they are inspected by soldiers.  Little by little, Nasreen and her classmates learn to read and write.  And little by little, Nasreen begins to join this community of women and girls.

Winter’s illustrations are are framed by lines and painted in thick acrylic paints.  This gives them the feel of more traditional work, though they depict modern life.  Though the situation is complex, Winter manages to tell the story in short sentences.  American children will learn of a society where people disappear and girls are not allowed to be educated, all explained at their level of comprehension.  Expect lots of questions and discussion after sharing this true story with children.

An important piece of work, this picture book allows children to glimpse another culture that is now intertwined with our American one.  Appropriate for ages 4-8.

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.

Also reviewed by A Year in Reading.

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