(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
“Shooting Kabul”

By N.H. Senzai.
Ages 8 to 12.

When bad guys take over the government in Fadi’s country, they pressure his father to work for them. Fadi’s father, Habib, decides that the family must flee the country. Their story sounds a bit like the movie “The Sound of Music.” But instead of Austria and the Nazis, Habib’s family lives in Afghanistan and the bad guys are the Taliban.

At the heart of both stories is a love of family and country. Fadi’s family left Afghanistan for several years so his father could get an advanced college degree in the United States. When he graduated, Habib was determined to return home to help his fellow Afghans, who had endured years of war.

At first it seemed like a good decision. “When we returned to Afghanistan, the Taliban asked me to help get rid of the country’s vast poppy fields that were used to make drugs,” his father said.

(Wayne Brezinka/For The Washington Post)

But Habib explained to 12-year-old Fadi and his two sisters that within a few years the Taliban “were suppressing the people they’d helped free.” That meant no schools for girls, no books and no photography, something Fadi loved.

When the Taliban urge Habib to become their ambassador, he realizes his family is in danger. It’s time to go.

They sell most of their possessions to pay for a secret trip back to the United States. As they scramble to jump onto a truck in the dead of night, something unthinkable happens. Mariam, Fadi’s 6-year-old sister, slips from his grasp and is left behind. The family can’t go back for her.

Fadi blames himself. As he struggles to adapt to life in the United States, he doesn’t stop thinking about rescuing Miriam. But how? A photo contest with a grand-prize trip to India could get him close to Afghanistan. If he can get that far, Fadi is sure he will find a way to bring his family back together.


N.H. Senzai wrote a second book about Afghan immigrants in California. Two cousins who don’t get along must help save the family grocery store in Saving Kabul Corner(ages 8 to 12).

In Michael Morpurgo’s Shadow,” Aman and his mother are told they have to go back to Afghanistan after living in England for six years. Can the story of a heroic dog persuade officials to let them stay? (ages 10 to 14)

Naima, the main character in Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, would like to earn money to help her family. But in Bangladesh, girls can’t work. When Naima breaks her father’s vehicle, money problems get worse (ages 7 to 10).

Next week

“The Jumbies”

By Tracey Baptiste. Ages 8 to 12.

Corinne lives on an island with her fisherman father. The girl is fearless. Her courage prompts her to go into the nearby forest that islanders say is filled with strange creatures called jumbies. Corinne doesn’t believe in them. But after her short visit to the woods, odd things begin to happen.

Christina Barron