Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
When a student is told that she will be held back for another year, things start to get serious. Abby Carson signs an agreement that she will get at least a "B" in every sixth grade class for the rest of the year and do an extra credit project. Abby really is a smart person, but her priority has always been doing her favorite thing - climbing. She would rather be outdoors than anyplace else. She is lucky her gymnasium at school has a climbing wall.
It is hard to find any mountains in her cornfields of Illinois. Her extra credit involves writing to a pen pal in a foreign country. She has three choices, but Afghanistan has the most mountains. She makes the decision based on the mountains of Afghanistan. She thinks that she is writing to a girl. The village elders insist that it is proper for a girl to correspond with another girl. Sadeed Bayat is in sixth grade and has the best English. Sadeed is asked to be the pen pal. However, they want it to appear as if his sister, Amira, is writing the letters.
Andrew Clements writes this book without the gory details of the war. He focuses on the lives of these two individuals in Illinois and Afghanistan. Their perspectives grow due to the pen pal experience. The cornfields are no longer boring for Abby. They appear to be "like a smile of God". The world opens up for both Sadeed and Abby. This is a modern realistic fiction for boys and girls of the ages nine to eleven.