Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Children's Book Week: Day Two: Mahtab's Story

Check out Day One: Juggling With Mandarins here!

Onto Day 2 of Children's book week, with a book we're studying now. At the moment we're focusing on Theme, Genre, Audience and Purpose. The students are all required to read four books that cover themes such as family, children on their own, survival, conflict, bravery etc. One of these books is Mahtab's Story by Libby Gleeson.

Mahtab is a young girl in Afghanistan, before September 11th. She's terrified of the Taliban, the men in black, who rule over the streets. She's not allowed to go to school, she's not even allowed to leave her home. After the death of her grandfather, her father begins to make plans for their departure to a country he's heard of - a place called Australia.

There is some beautiful writing in the beginning - some of the most descriptive writing I've read in a children's book, which just sort of picks you up and carries you along. The setting of the story is quite universal, there are refugees all over the world. However, there are some parts which really sit within an Australian context, with recent debates over 'boat people'.

The ending seemed a little rushed to me, which was an opinion shared with the students. I think we all wanted to know more about Mahtab's settlement into an obviously strange country. However these discussions about what makes a good story or a good ending are just as important.

This is another book I'd recommend, particularly if you are doing any work on Afghanistan or on refugees.


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