Andrew Clements is one of my all time most favourite favourite favourite authors so when a new Andrew Clements book arrived in my school library this week I just had to clear the decks and read read read…
Extra Credit certainly did not disappoint me, is, quite simply, a terrific book. Once again Andrew Clements really gets inside the world of the senior primary student. Abby is a capable girl but she is just not interested in school tasks. “She was a decent reader, she was okay at math and she was plenty smart. It wasn’t that she couldn’t do the work. She just didn’t like doing it. And most of the time, she didn’t see the point.”
Extra Credit is one of those books where the voices and setting alternate, in this case between Abby in Illinois and Sadeed in a small village in Afghanistan. Abby has to do extra credit to prevent having to repeat Sixth Grade and this involves a project based around pen pal letters. She selects Afghanistan because there are mountains shown on the map and Abby is a climber. There are no mountains in her part of Illinois so she has taken up wall climbing in the gym at her school. She absolutely loves wall climbing.
Sadeed is selected to write back to Abby because he is the best English student in his school and he has neat handwriting but it is inappropriate for a boy to write to a girl so Sadeed has to involve his sister in the letter writing and it is Amira who signs the letters not knowing that Sadeed has added information, questions and comments of his own.
All of this comes to a head when Sadeed is coming home from school one day and he is grabbed by a dangerous man who recognizes the stamps on his letter from America. “he let go of Sadeed’s arm, quickly ripped the letter once, then twice again, and threw the pieces to the ground.” Sadeed does manage to piece the letter back together but now what will he do – letter writing has become dangerous, forbidden.
My advice is don’t leave Primary School without reading at least one book by Andrew Clements – you won’t be disappointed. My personal favourites are Frindle, The Laundry News, The Janitors Boy and The Last Holiday concert. These books will be loved equally by boys and girls. Take a few minutes to check out his web site it is great and there is a video of Andrew talking about his newest book. He looks like such a warm person wouldn't it be great to meet him.
I would also heartily recommend Andrew Clements to all teachers. You can easily tell Andrew Clements is or was a teacher - "After a day or two, even a really interesting bulletin board turns into wall paper, and almost nobody sees it anymore." This is so true.