Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

This is the next book up in my series on middle grade books that reflect the immigrant experience in the US.

When Fadi’s family flees from the Taliban in Afghanistan, his 6-year-old sister, Mariam, is accidentally left behind. As Fadi and his family try to adjust to life in San Francisco, Mariam is never far from their thoughts. At school, Fadi enters a photography contest, hoping to win the grand prize—a National Geographic photography trip to India. If he wins, Fadi plans to slip over the border into Afghanistan to find his sister. But after the events of 9/11, Fadi’s Pashtun family is fearful in their new home, and fearful that they’ll never be able to get Mariam out of Afghanistan.

Many of my students’ parents who were doctors or engineers in their home countries have to take jobs in the US where they aren’t able to utilize their training and talents. The only job that Fadi’s educated father can get in the US is a taxi driver, and his older sister works at McDonalds as the family struggles day-to-day. I know that many of my students will connect with Fadi and his family’s struggles.

Hand this book to the kid:

* who recently emigrated to the US

* who had to leave family behind in the home country

* whose parents struggle with a career change in the US

* who is going through culture shock

* who is learning English

* who is interested in photography

* who has experienced bullying

* who has immigrated to the U.S. and into your heart

Use this to teach:

Empathy–While Fadi and his community endure acts of hate after the events of 9/11, this story introduces readers to the innocent victims of racial profiling.

* Photography--Middle School Art teachers, this is your book! Fadi’s saving grace at school is the photography club, and there are several details about what makes a good photo–composition, lighting, subject, etc.

*World Events–The story provides a straightforward explanation of the rise and fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fear and hope that Afghanis experienced with the US invasion of their country.

Curriculum Guide here.

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for reviews.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Publication Date: 2010

ISBN:  978-1-4424-0194-5

Number of Pages: 272

Reading Level: 5.4

Interest Level:  ages 8 and up

Thanks to Teach Mentor Texts for hosting today’s What Are You Reading?

Thanks to Shannon Messenger for hosting Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

18 responses to “Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

  1. This one is a must read for me now. Thanks for telling us about it!

  2. One of the GatheringBooks ladies, Fats, has mentioned this book to me and featured it for Teaser Tuesday before we had our Immigrant bimonthly theme, but she never got around to reviewing it. Sounds like a fantastic read. I shall definitely bug her and ask her to share it with the rest of us as well. Great teacher resources too, thanks for sharing.

    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      If Fats does get around to reading the book–it’s well worth it. I also thought that the author had some really useful resources up on her site for teachers–always helpful!

  3. This sounds like so many kinds of good in a book!

  4. Ohhh, this sounds wonderful. I remember seeing it on the bookshelves when it first came out. Now I really have to add it to the TBR list. Thanks, Natalie! Any book that teaches empathy is a great book.

    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      Thanks, Joanne. Shooting Kabul has been on my TBR for ages now, and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it, too!

  5. Wow, just reading the summary packs an emotional punch. I’ll have to check this one out.

    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      This story really does pack an emotional punch, but not in a melodramatic way–it’s spot-on for a middle grade audience’s sensibilities.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. I like your recommendations, all very good books. I would add, to any and all of them- that I’d give the book to anyone looking for a good book to read.

    • Natalie Dias Lorenzi

      Thanks, Mirka! That’s what I love about these books–they’re good reads for all kids, not just those who have moved here from other countries.

  7. I love the format of your reviews! Especially the “hand this to a kid who…” So great. Have you read Same Sun Here by Neela Vaswani and Silas House? I love that book! Interesting twist on learning about a family new to the country.

  8. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Thanks, Jen! Glad you like the format–I needed something consistent and useful to me as a librarian, so this is what I came up with. I love idea of mentor texts on your blog, as well!

    Haven’t read Same Sun Here yet, and I just read the blurb online–will definitely be adding this to the list. Thanks!

  9. I haven’t heard of this one. As a 5th grade teacher I am always on the lookout for books that students in my class will enjoy and connect to in some way. I like that you included who to give this book to and what to teach using this book. Thank so much for sharing!

  10. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Glad you enjoyed the format, Stephanie, and glad you stopped by! I’ll also be recommending this one to 5th graders–the main character is in middle school, and I find that our 5th graders always like to read about characters who are slightly older, and they love to get a sneak peek into the world of middle school. Hope your students enjoy it!

  11. Thanks for the thoughtful, nuanced review. I’m glad you found it to be an interesting read.
    NH Senzai

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