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Extra Credit (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Extra Credit (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.1 58
by Andrew Clements

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It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her schoolwork, it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back -- for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions,


It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her schoolwork, it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's pretty much failing sixth grade. When a warning letter is sent home, Abby realizes that all her slacking off could cause her to be held back -- for real! Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country. Simple enough (even for a girl who hates homework).

Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal.... Well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know.

As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different lifestyles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not so simple.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Clements (Frindle) successfully bridges two cultures in this timely and insightful dual-perspective story. When Abby learns that her teachers want her to repeat sixth grade, the Illinois girl pledges to improve her grades and complete an extra-credit pen pal project. Since her favorite pastime is scaling a climbing wall, she's fascinated by Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and sends a letter to a one-room school there requesting a pen pal. So it will reflect well on his village, the teacher decides that his best student, Sadeed, should reply, but with a letter supposedly written by his sister, since it's deemed improper for a boy to correspond with a girl. In chapters devoted to Sadeed and in his missives to Abby (which he eventually admits he's composing), the sensitive boy shares illuminating information about Afghan beliefs and traditions, as well as his own aspirations. Abby responds with similar candor and the two gain much from their correspondence-as will readers. Clements effectively broadens his canvas in this worthy addition to his oeuvre of school-themed novels. Ages 8-12. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Sixth grader Abby Carson has a big problem. All those months of slacking off on studying and homework could result in her being held back in sixth grade while classmates and friends pass her by. Only three things will save her: getting a B or better on all her subjects between now and the end of school, completing all her homework plus an extra credit project, which is finding a pen pal in another country. On the other side of the world, Sadeed Bayat, who lives in the hill country above Kabul, Afghanistan, also has a problem of sorts. Because he excels in English, he has been chosen to correspond with a pen pal in the USA, but because the culture states that it is scandalous for a boy to speak to a girl, he must go through his younger sister, Amira, so a long-distance correspondence between Abby and Sadeed begins. What starts out as a time consuming project for both results in hard-learned lessons in geography, friendship, and human nature that will change their lives. What is the biggest lesson for Abby and Sadeed? People are not that different, after all, good intentions or bad attitudes. The two also discover a new appreciation for their own surroundings, each through the eyes of the other. This is an important book, especially in the atmosphere of general distrust of foreigners here and throughout the world. Clements is a fine writer and captures teenage angst well. The full-page illustrations are lovely. Presenting the students' letters so that they look hand printed adds to the drama and realism. This book is very well done! Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—A forced pen-pal exchange turns into an opportunity for real communication between Illinois sixth-grader Abby Carson and Sadeed Bayat, the best English-language student in his Afghan village. When Abby's first letter arrives in Bahar-Lan, 11-year-old Sadeed is asked by the elders to compose his sister Amira's reply; it isn't proper for a boy and girl to correspond with one another. But soon Sadeed can't resist telling Abby that it is he who has been writing to her. The third-person narrative alternates points of view, allowing for inclusion of intriguing details of both lives. Never a scholar, Abby prefers the woods behind her family's farm and the climbing wall in her school; in the afternoons, Sadeed works in his father's grain shop. In spite of their differences, Abby and Sadeed connect through their imaginations, and their earlier readings of Frog and Toad Are Friends. They learn, as Abby reports, that "people are simple, but the stuff going on around them can get complicated." Full-page pencil illustrations throughout add to the book's appeal. Clements offers readers an engaging and realistic school story and provides an evenhanded comparison between a Midwestern girl's lifestyle and a culture currently in the news.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

In the Hills Above Kabul

Sadeed knew he wasn't supposed to be listening to the men talking in the next room. He also knew he wasn't supposed to be peeking through the crack near the bottom of the old wooden door. But they had to be talking about him in there -- why else would his teacher have invited him to the home of the headman of the village?

His teacher, Mahmood Jafari, had not told him much. "Please come to Akbar Khan's house this afternoon at four. He and his councillors meet today, and I have to speak with them. And I may need you to be there."

Sadeed thought perhaps his teacher was going to recommend him for a special honor. That wasn't hard to imagine, not at all. Perhaps the village elders would award him a scholarship to one of the finest new schools in Kabul. He would wear blue trousers and a clean white shirt to classes every day, and he would have his own computer, and he would take his place as one of the future leaders of Afghanistan. His father and mother would be very proud of him. It would be a great opportunity. And Sadeed was certain he richly deserved it.

Through the crack in the door, Sadeed could see all seven men, sitting on cushions around a low table, sipping tea. An electric bulb hung overhead, and two wires ran across the ceiling to the gasoline generator outside. Mahmood was talking to Akbar Khan, but the teacher's back was toward the door, and Sadeed couldn't hear what he was saying.

When the teacher finished, someone Sadeed knew -- Hassan Jaji -- began to speak. Hassan stopped by his father's shop in the village bazaar at least once a week, and he sometimes stayed awhile, telling stories about his time as a freedom fighter during the war with the Soviet Union. One day he had shown Sadeed where a Russian grenade had blown two fingers off his right hand. And as the man spoke now, that was the hand he used to stroke his chin.

"I am only a simple man," Hassan said, "and I would never try to stop progress. But our traditions protect us. And they protect our children. And I believe that the schoolteacher has asked us to allow something that would not be proper."

The eyes of the men turned back to Mahmood. The teacher looked around the circle and cleared his throat, speaking more forcefully now so that Sadeed could hear every word he said. "What Hassan says about our traditions is certainly true."

He paused, and Sadeed saw him hold up a bright green envelope with three stamps on it, each one a small picture of an American flag. The front of the envelope was decorated with two pink butterfly stickers.

The teacher said, "But it is also a tradition that we are a courteous people. And therefore one student from our village school must answer this letter from the girl in America. And I believe it would be most courteous if our very best student writes back, the one student who is most skillful with the English language. And that one student is Sadeed Bayat."

A pang of disappointment cut through Sadeed. His name had just been spoken in the ears of the most important men in this part of Panjshir Province, and why? To be recommended for a great honor? No. To write a letter. To a girl.

Hassan stroked his chin again. He shook his head. "That letter is from an American girl. And should a boy and a girl be sharing their thoughts this way? No. Let one of the girls write back. A girl would be more proper."

And outside the door, Sadeed nodded and whispered, "Exactly!"

The teacher spoke up again. "To be sure, what Hassan says would be best. But the letter that goes back to America will represent our village, even our nation. And should we accept less than the very best writing, the best spelling and grammar? I know Sadeed Bayat -- you may know him too, the son of Zakir the wheat merchant. He is a good boy. And his excellent writing will represent us well. His words will speak well of all the children of Afghanistan. And I feel sure that no harm will come of this. I feel sure that -- "

Akbar Khan held up a hand, and Mahmood went silent.

The headman said, "Have you told Sadeed about this letter yet?"

"No," said the teacher. "I came to ask for advice."

Akbar nodded. "You did well to wait." The headman looked around the circle. "I agree that the finest student from our village must reply. And I agree that it would be best if a girl from our school is the writer." Akbar turned to the teacher. "Sadeed has a sister, doesn't he?"

"Yes," Mahmood said. "Amira, about two years younger."

The headman smiled. "Just so. Amira will write back to the girl in America. And the finest student from our village will watch over her and help her, doing what is needed to be sure that the writing is excellent. But only the girl will sign the letter. And therefore, all will be proper. And, of course, our teacher promises that nothing shameful will come of this." Looking Mahmood full in the face, he said, "Do you promise this?"

Mahmood nodded. "I do."

"Then it is decided," said Akbar Khan. "And now we will have more tea."

Fifteen minutes later, when his teacher came out into the entry hall, Sadeed was sitting on the long wooden bench with two men who had arrived to speak before the village elders. He stood up and followed his teacher down the hallway, out the door, across the walled courtyard, and then through the iron gate that opened onto the main road.

As they stood beside the road, Mahmood smiled and said, "Thank you for coming, Sadeed. It turns out that I needn't have bothered you. I know you need to hurry to your job now, but I must speak with you before school tomorrow morning. I need your help with an important job."

Sadeed nodded, taking care to put a puzzled look on his face.

"So," Mahmood said. "Good evening."

And with a small, formal bow, the teacher turned right and walked toward the school, headed home. Not only did he work at the school, but he lived in a room built against the rear wall of the building.

Sadeed turned in the other direction, headed back toward the bazaar. He worked for his father every day after school, and the shop would be open for at least another hour.

As he walked along the road, following a large man riding on a small donkey, he thought about all he had heard. No great honors were heading his way. However, Akbar Khan himself had called him "the finest student from our village." So that was good.

And Sadeed also thought about tomorrow, about how he would have to pretend to be surprised when his teacher told him he must help Amira -- just like he had pretended to be puzzled a few moments ago.

But the only thing that actually puzzled Sadeed was how his teacher could call writing a letter to a girl in America "an important job."

Because that made no sense at all. © 2009 by Andrew Clements

Meet the Author

Andrew Clements is the author of the enormously popular FRINDLE. Over ten million of his books have sold to date and he has been nominated for a multitude of state awards and has won two Christopher Awards and an Edgar Award. His popular works include EXTRA CREDIT, LOST AND FOUND, NO TALKING, ROOM ONE, LUNCH MONEY, A WEEK IN THE WOODS, THE JACKET, THE SCHOOL STORY, THE JANITOR'S BOY, THE LANDRY NEWS, THE REPORT CARD AND THE LAST HOLIDAY CONCERT. Mr. Clements taught in the public schools near Chicago for seven years before moving East to begin a career in publishing and writing. He lives with his wife in central Massachusetts and has four grown children. His website is andrewclements.com.

Mark Elliott has a BFA in illustration from the School of Visual Arts. He has illustrated a number of book covers and his work has been exhibited at the Society of Illustrators and the Art Directors Guild. Mark lives on a sheep farm in the Hudson Valley region of New York.

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Extra Credit 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Extra Credit Abby Carson has been having a little trouble with her grades from fourth grade to sixth grade (she's presently in sixth grade.) In February of sixth grade, Abby found out she probably will have to repeat sixth grade. But, she finds out that if she does all her homework in all her subjects (and an extra credit project in L. A.), she has a chance to go to seventh grade. Then, she finds out the project is to write to someone from where she lives (Illinois) to a small village by the city of Kabul in Afghanistan. The person she is writing to is Amira Bayat. But secretly, Amira's brother Sadeed is the real one writing the letters because he doesn't think what Amira is saying in her letters is important and because what Amira says isn't answering the questions that Abby is asking in her letters. Extra Credit is a book that is written by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Mark Elliott. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division published the book. The book was copyrighted in 2009. Extra Credit costs $16.99 in the United States. The theme of the book is it takes a lot of effort to set things right (as Abby did throughout the book with her grades.) Overall, it was a book with turns and twists.
gnjhns More than 1 year ago
This story allows 2 children to have a small window into each of their worlds. I loved the way he was able to help each child see their differences and appreicate all that they have and could have. I would recommend this to any family who are trying to help their children understand the struggle the Afgan children must face in order to do something as simple as write a letter. Many of us take this privledge for granted and if we did not have the communication highway where would we be? Clements has done an excellent job in showing children friendships can cross all borders and it is important to care for others and not just yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Andrew Clements' novels are always a success in my opinion. Written for a middle grade audience, they are entertaining, inspirational, and educational, and EXTRA CREDIT is no exception. Just look closely at the cover and you will probably guess EXTRA CREDIT is a pen pal story, but it is not just any pen pal situation. Abby finds herself reluctantly writing a pen pal letter for extra credit. She is in danger of being held back in sixth grade again next year. Desperate to go on to junior high with her friends, she has promised to do all her homework and earn B's on all future tests this year so that she can leave the sixth grade behind. That is not quite enough for her language arts teacher. An extra credit project will also be required. That's where the letter writing comes in. Halfway around the globe from Illinois is Sadeed living in Afghanistan. His teacher has just asked him to assist his sister in writing a pen pal letter to a girl from America. That girl is Abby. What follows is the development of an unusual friendship and a learning experience like no other. Both young people are introduced to a culture completely different from their own, and the reactions that arise leave them both confused about the intolerant beliefs that surround them. The possibilities for EXTRA CREDIT are endless. It could be used as a discussion starter in classrooms involving current events, different cultures, letter writing, and so much more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was exciting and fun to read!!!!! I recomd this book and other Adrew Clement books
lovereading1 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It gives people a chance to learn what it is like in different cultures, and, in some cases, how lucky we are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OPINION: Not as much adventure as I like, if you like liturature and realistic fiction, this is the book for you. ( I myself like action /adventure and fantasy, so this rating is kind of biased. ) Fans of Andrew Clemets' hilarious books, you are probably going to think that this book is less funny than his others. SUMMARY: Sadeed is trusted with the job of teaching his sister English to send to an American girl. But they make a system where she talks and he writes it down ( and secretly edits it to sound better. ) They send letters vack in forth and Sadeed begind to get fon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Afghan meet America! To get extra credit so she can pass the grad this girl gets a pen pal. A cliff hanging ending but Its still GOod! &#321 &#123 &#4321
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Very exciting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a really good book but its not my type of a book i would want to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How many pages?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. I recommened for 4th grade &up. The words are well written.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book trust me i read it it is touching and funny and is really good i think is cool how she is writing to someone someqhere else and i love love love this book so much this is a really long run on sentence but i dont care so any way it is a must read really in teresting i have3,206 charecters left i wonder bye!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing i recomend it to msny children across the wrld maybe you can relate to his book it is easy to picture things and the characters in your head andrew clments is a fantastic wrier and has wonderful imagintion and is very creative i hope you like this book as much as i did
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book by Andrew Clements got to love this book to penpals find out about eachothers country and become friends but they dont know each others secerets
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really great book . the author andrew clements did a great job making this book ! When i started reading this book i loved it ! I think everyone should read it !! If you read this book hope you like it !!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book and i hate books and this is the only book i likE !!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago