It isnt that Abby Carson cant do her schoolwork. She just doesnt like
doing it. And consequently, Abby will have to repeat sixth gradeunless she meets some specific conditions, including taking on an extra credit project: find a pen pal in a distant country. But when Abbys first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, complications arise. The elders agree that any letters going back to America must be written well, but the only qualified English-speaking student is a boy. And in this village, its not proper for a boy to correspond with a girl. So, Sadeeds sister will dictate and sign the letters for him. But what about the villagers who believe that girls should not be anywhere near a school? And what about those who believe that any contact with Americans is...unhealthy?
As letters flow back and forthbetween the prairies of Illinois and the mountains of central Asia, across cultural and religious divides, through the minefields of different lifestyles and traditionsa small group of children begin to speak and listen to each other. And in just a few short weeks, they make important discoveries about their communities, about their world, and most of all, about themselves.