by Jeanette Winter
Simon and Schuster, 2009
review copy provided by the publisher
This book is based on a true story of a girl in Afghanistan who loses both parents to the Taliban and who is being raised by her grandmother. Seeing that her granddaughter has retreated into a mire of silent grief for her parents, the grandmother enrolls her in a secret school for girls. This book is a testament to the power of a teacher, a friend, and books to bring this little girl back to life and hope.
In the author's note, Winter writes: "Even now, after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, danger remains. Still, schools are bombed, set on fire, and closed down. Still, there are death threats to teachers. Still, girls are attacked or threatened if they go to school. And STILL, the girls, their families, and their teachers defy the tyranny by keeping the schools open. Their courage has never wavered.”
For more on the importance of educating the women of the world, see this New York Times Magazine article. Be sure you watch the audio slide show "A Powerful Truth" that can be found in the sidebar about halfway down the page, and view this montage of photographs submitted by readers "that illustrate the importance of educating girls and empowering women." (Thank you to @karenszymusiak for these links via Twitter.)