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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.
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Reading Group Guide
by Andrew Clements
About the Book
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. 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 . . .
• Author Andrew Clements chose the state of Illinois in the United States and Afghanistan as the settings in Extra Credit. Why do you think Clements selected these locations? What kinds of differences between the two countries—cultural and otherwise—can you identify after reading the book?
• On the first page of Extra Credit, Afghani student Sadeed thinks that his teacher is going to “recommend him for a special honor,” but when he finds out that his teach see more
Behind the Book
Letter from Andrew Clements
The moment that salutation appears, you know what’s going on: It’s a letter, and someone hopes it has reached you.
We write a letter, send it off, and then we trust it arrives, hope it gets opened and read and thought about. It’s that way with a book as well, and my new novel, Extra Credit, is no exception. Plus, this book has a special kinship with letter writing: it’s built around a pen pal exchange between two sixth graders–a gi