Renowned picture book creator Jeanette Winter tells the story of a young girl in Afghanistan who attends a secret school for girls.
Young Nasreen has not spoken a word to anyone since her parents disappeared.
In despair, her grandmother risks everything to enroll Nasreen in a secret school for girls. Will a devoted teacher, a new friend, and the worlds she discovers in books be enough to draw Nasreen out of her shell of sadness?
Based on a true story from Afghanistan, this inspiring book will touch readers deeply as it affirms both the life-changing power of education and the healing power of love.
Winter's (The Librarian of Basra) understated but powerful story is set in modern Afghanistan under the Taliban when girls were forbidden to attend school. Offering an adult's perspective on the changes the country has seen, Nasreen's grandmother serves as storyteller, her narrative obliquely noting that since the soldiers arrived in Herat, "The art and music and learning are gone. Dark clouds hang over the city." After soldiers take Nasreen's father away "with no explanation," her mother defies the law by leaving home alone to look for him, never returning. Nasreen refuses to smile or talk, and her worried grandmother sneaks her into a "secret school" in a private home, where Nasreen eventually speaks again, makes friends and learns about Afghanistan's brighter past. Though the child's parents are still missing, her grandmother takes comfort in her realization that "the soldiers can never close the windows" that the school has opened for Nasreen. Framed by bright, striped borders, Winter's handsome acrylic folk art effectively imparts the ominous omnipresence of Taliban soldiers, Nasreen's social and intellectual transformation and the book's hopeful final note. Ages 6 9.