Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

The novel Shooting Kabul by N.H. Sense is about a boy named Fadi who lived in Afghanistan. His family had no choice but to leave Afghanistan because the Taliban rose to power and they didn’t bring the good like they promised.

Fadi’s father, Habib, had secured the family a safe passage to America in the summer of 2001, as long as they crossed the border. The plan was to meet a truck that would carry Fadi’s family across the Peshawar, Pakistan. While Fadi’s older sister, Noor, was helping her sick mother, Fadi was in charge of taking care of his sister Mariam. All was going according to plan until the Taliban showed up.

Mariam is accidentally left behind because she dropped her barbie doll and she jumped off the truck to get it back. The rest of his family made it safely, but they were unable to properly move on with there lives until they knew Mariam would come back safely. While staying with his relatives in San Francisco, school had just started and he had to adjust to a new life. His new friend, Anh convinced him to join the school’s photography club and there was a competition where the first place winner gets a new camera and a trip to China, Kenya, or India. Then Fadi realized that India is right next to Afghanistan and if he won the competition, he could fly there, find Mariam, and bring her back home. Fadi spent all his time photographing the sights of San Fransisco. He knew that failure wasn’t an option, so he took the perfect picture of his grandparents and submitted it.

Later, there was news that terrorists had crashed planes into two skyscrapers in New York at the Pentagon in Washington DC on September 11. Many people believe that all Muslims are terrorists who support the men who hijacked the planes. Bullies at his school started picking on him because of his Muslim faith. Fadi truly believed that he would win the photography competition, but when he heard that he didn’t win, he was devastated. Fadi isn’t able to go to Afghanistan to find his missing sister. But, he did get an honorable mention for his entry, which attracted the attention of one judge who specialized in photographing war zones. The judge offered to show him some of his most recent work, which was taken along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. While looking thorough the photos, Fadi saw a picture of Mariam playing with some other children at a refugee camp. Mariam was tracked down and she boarded a flight to San Fransisco to be reunited with her family.

I would would recommend this book to anyone who likes novels that involve historical background. This book was interesting and it involved the tragic event of 9/11.Throughout the the novel, you get to see the journey Fadi went through to save his sister in Afghanistan.

-Vanessa T.

Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

In my 5th grade literature class, I was introduced to a charming little novel called The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. When I read through it as a 10 year old, I thought of the book as an exciting adventure and I remember thinking how humorous it was that the main character was an arrogant china doll rabbit that wore silk suits. But now, I go back and read it and I see more than a rabbit toy.  Encased within the text is a message of the importance of humility and compassion and the power to prompt the reader into self-reflection of their habits and heart.

Spoiled Edward is a parallel and a mirrored reflection of who we are as a society. Today’s culture is the epitome of arrogance. Just like how Edward stared at his own reflection and never ceased to be amazed at his own fineness, we try to be the person on social media with the most followers, we buy nice clothes and take immense amounts time caring about what people view us as. This is our image on the exterior. But on the interior, we are too full of arrogance and too empty of compassion. Luckily, this tale displays a miraculous change of heart. Edward gets lost and falls out of the comfortable life he lives with his rich owner. He witnesses broken hearts, lost dreams, hopelessness and death for the first time in his entire existence. His ego slowly disintegrates and at the end, a lonely, depressed Edward utters a very significant quote in this novel. He states, “‘I have already been loved . . . I have been loved by a girl named Abilene. I have been loved by a fisherman and his wife and a hobo and his dog. I have been loved by a boy who played the harmonica and by a girl who died. Don’t talk to me about love . . . I have known love’” (193). This journey is the catalyst that leads Edward’s cold heart into a state of vulnerability. His entire china body aches with grief because once he finally understands what love means, it is too late, for all the people he learned to love are gone. Edward, the king of his own little world, understands that the finest things in life are not gold pocket watches, imported hats and dashing reflections.

We can learn from Edward that we need to step away from ourselves and take time to love others who are less fortunate or in need of affection. Civilization can be swept away by arrogant ignorance which ultimately leads to destruction and turmoil. Therefore, this novel counters the coldness in our hearts and saves us from the cruel consequences of our actions. As Edward’s painted on eyes open to the conclusion that life’s greatest gift is love and love alone, the audience is awoken with him.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: Matilda, by Roald Dahl

matildaIf you were a super genius with super dumb parents, how would you deal with it? The book Matilda by Roald Dahl is all about how five year old Matilda deals with all the adults in her life that underestimate her and her amazing superpowers, and one adult who becomes her helpmeet.

As a general rule I LOVE Roald Dahl. His witty and creative writing always evokes a laugh out loud response. I find myself genuinely adoring the main character, detesting the notorious villain, and overall loving the world that Dahl creates. It’s a place I hate to leave when the book is over and excitedly anticipate when I crack open one of his books for at least the fifteenth time.

There have been movies and even Broadway musicals based on Matilda, the girl genius, but to me the book will always be magical. Just because it is there that I first envisioned the characters, the very world, that I could not visit myself and I’m sorry but movies will never do that for me. So read this book– and if you’ve read this book, read another Dahl book. If you haven’t read anything by Roald Dahl, I want you to head down to Barnes and Nobles and buy as many Roald Dahl books as possible. Now.

-Becka O., 8th grade