Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind

( 106 )

Overview

Life is both sweet and cruel to strong-willed young Shabanu, whose home is the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she's been allowed freedoms forbidden to most Muslim girls. But when a tragic encounter with a wealthy and powerful landowner ruins the marriage plans of her older sister, Shabanu is called upon to sacrifice everything she's dreamed of. Should she do what is necessary to uphold her family's honor—or listen to the ...

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Shabanu

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Overview

Life is both sweet and cruel to strong-willed young Shabanu, whose home is the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she's been allowed freedoms forbidden to most Muslim girls. But when a tragic encounter with a wealthy and powerful landowner ruins the marriage plans of her older sister, Shabanu is called upon to sacrifice everything she's dreamed of. Should she do what is necessary to uphold her family's honor—or listen to the stirrings of her own heart?

When eleven-year old Shabanu, the daughter of a nomad in the Cholistan Desert of present-day Pakistan, is pledged in marriage to an older man whose money will bring prestige to the family, she must either accept the decision, as is the custom, or risk the consequences of defying her father's wishes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Shabanu is an unforgettable heroine set like a fine jewel in a wonderfully wrought book.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“Staples has accomplished a small miracle in her touching and powerful story.”—The New York Times

“Remarkable . . . a riveting tour de force.”—The Boston Globe

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW called this Newbery Honor book about a Pakistani girl a ``thorny, poignant coming-of-age'' novel. ``Staples's depiction of desert life is breathtaking. She employs vivid, lyrical metaphors to create the potency of the family's joys and struggles.'' Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
There are few who have helped to open a better understanding of women in another culture like Suzanne Staples, who won a 1990 Newbery Honor Medal for Shabanu. Staples, for years a foreign correspondent and news desk editor, has begun a new career as a young adult novelist. Shabanu was born out of Suzanne's own surprise at the life she found while working in Pakistan. "I try to remember about what I thought of Pakistan before I went there. It's an artificial country created when the British were cutting India free, and you don't expect it to have such a rich culture." For Staples, the most precious treasures she found in Pakistan were the stories of the people she met, particularly the women. In the Cholistan desert, she met an eleven-year-old girl, orphaned, intelligent, independent, and confident. She became the inspiration for her heroine Shabanu. There is a study guide available from Learning Links.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307977885
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 153,193
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

SUZANNE FISHER STAPLES is the award-winning author whose novels for young adults include Haveli and The House of Djinn, companion novels to Shabanu; Dangerous Skies, and Shiva's Fire. Before writing books, she worked for many years as a UPI correspondent in Asia, with stints in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India.

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

1. How is the life of Shabanu’s family affected because the family has no male children? How is their financial well-being affected? Explain how having no brothers has shaped Shabanu. Do you believe that having a son is a high priority for a family in your culture?

2. Many people love animals, but Shabanu’s affinity with the camels, especially with Guluband and Mithoo, is extreme. What freedoms does Shabanu obtain from her job of caring for the camels? List things she learns from the camels that help her to understand human beings.

3. When Shabanu begins to realize that Guluband might be sold, Dadi says, “What Allah wills cannot be changed” (p. 49). How does Shabanu feel when it really happens? Why does she reject her impulse to take the animal and run away (p. 56)? Later (p. 63), Shabanu has intellectually accepted her father’s decision, but emotionally it is a different story. Explain why she feels she has lost her joy, her freedom, and her identity. How do you interpret her statement (p. 85) that the experience has taught her “both the strength of my will and its limits”? How does this foreshadow later events?

4. One of the novel’s minor themes is the relationship between father and daughter, a tricky one in any culture. What makes it even more complicated in Pakistan? Note the times when Dadi acts from his feelings about Shabanu and those when he follows tradition. For example, examine the scene when the camels fight (pp. 23–26). When Dadi does things “for her own good,” is he being a responsible father, or is he trying to break her spirit? How do you think American culture affects father-daughter relationships?

5. Shabanu is the name of a princess. Considering our Shabanu’s character and station in life, what is appropriate and inappropriate about her name? At the bazaar in Rahimyar Khan (pp. 70–74), do you think it is her name or her nature that causes the shopkeeper to give Shabanu the valuable gifts? Defend your answer with examples from the story. The shopkeeper’s kindness touches Shabanu’s heart. Explain how her gratitude may be more important than the items themselves.

6. In the United States, how long are the young considered children? How long does childhood last for Muslims? At thirteen, Phulan is supposed to be a woman. Point to her conflicting feelings about her role and her forthcoming marriage to Hamir. Why does she wear a black chadr?

7. A dilemma is any situation requiring a choice between equal—often equally unpleasant—alternatives. Explain Shabanu’s dilemma when she and Phulan meet Nazir Mohammad and his hunters. Shabanu’s choosing to save her sister from rape leads to the story’s climax. On p. 154, why is Shabanu angry at her sister? “She was asking for it” is still used as a defense by rapists. Does Shabanu’s anger show an antifeminist response or is she, too, a victim, but a victim of her culture?

8. Irony is the use of words to express something other than—often the opposite of—their literal meaning. The chapter explaining that Phulan will marry Murad and that Shabanu is promised to Rahim is titled “Justice.” First discuss the irony of the title, then look at the decisions made in this chapter in terms of the customs of Shabanu’s society.

9. Shabanu has always displayed her independence, and her mother has been understanding. Why do you think her mother slaps her when she says she will go to live with Sharma? Sharma accuses the family of having bought Phulan’s happiness and their security by selling Shabanu. Do you agree or disagree? How is this arrangement different from their having arranged Shabanu’s marriage to Murad? Defend or attack Dadi’s argument.

10. Sharma tells Shabanu she has two choices: Keep Rahim’s interest by learning the tricks of women or come to live with her. Considering the culture and Shabanu’s character, predict what she will do. What would you have done?

11. What is Sharma meant to represent in the story? Is she wise or simply a rebel? Shabanu faces her future armed only with Sharma’s advice: Keep your innermost beauty locked in your heart. What does this mean? Do you think it will protect Shabanu?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 106 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(52)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(13)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(13)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 106 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Fair Book

    The thing that I like about this book is that anyone who reads it will learn a little more about the Muslim culture. In my opinion, the middle and beginning of the story could be a tad boring because it mainly tells about the future life of a girl and her sister which is about to get married. Then towards the end, more action starts to build and that is the only part where the story gets interesting and exciting. For anyone who would like to read this book, I will warn you something... it contains sexual harrasment and the ending is very sad.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2009

    Disappointing

    Several times in the book I found myself reading passages and then having to reread them because I had gotten bored and didn't even know what it was I had just read. I know Staples claimed to do her research, but it doesn't seem like it to me. There's so much she seems completely unaware of: Islamically, there is no "bride price" (the only bride price there is has to do with the culture of the region, not the actual religion, and nowadays in Pakistan there is very little of this kind), but the dowry is given to the woman by the man she marries, instead of the woman giving the man a dowry (the latter happens in Hindu culture, not Islamic culture) and a marriage cannot take place without the consent of either the man or the woman, so Shabanu's marriage to Rahim could have annulled because it was organized without her consent. Also, Shabanu seems unnaturally obsessed with the physical attributes of men and women both - Islam teaches its followers to be modest (as in, no hip swaying on Phulan's part and clothes that completely cover a woman's body and do not reveal her figure) and for men to lower their eyes in a woman's presence (of course, when the woman is not someone of their immediate family) and for women to do the same in front of men.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2008

    Horrible

    This is the worst book I have ever read. I had to read it for school, and I think certain parts were incredibly inappropriate, especially how Shabanu goes into detail about her breasts, her sister's breasts, and touching herself. The main character was incredibly selfish and constantly crying over foolish things, although there are people in Pakistan with lives so much worse than her's. She was blessed with a family that had money, and didn't abuse her or hate her for being a woman (because families prefer sons). Not to mention, her family was not punished for what Shabanu and Phulan did to the landlord, and Shabanu gets to marry a man who seems truly kind, yet she is still complaining. THIS GIRL NEEDS TO GET OVER HERSELF. Note to author: start writing about real Pakistani problems!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2008

    Great!!!

    Oka first of all this book is wondefull. I thought it was well written. I usually dont read books like this but this one was actually really good. I have no clue what so ever were people are getting that this book is sexual. maybe one or two things. I too read this book when i was in seventh grade, and this book was definitly age appropriate. Whoever says this book isnt age appropriate must a little too immature for the book.the book is what really is going on over there.so i have to say to all those immature haters GROW UP! and it was a VERY good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2007

    A Good Read For Young Adults

    I read this book when I was quite a bit younger for a summer reading project, and I loved it. It really opened my eyes to middle eastern culture, and how different things can be half a world away. Shabanu is a very interesting character, and as you read you experience all the heartbreak and happiness she does. I recommend it to any young adult who wants to learn about other cultures. Haveli, the sequel, is a good read also.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2007

    THE BESTT

    i first had to read this book for a school project and i absolutly loved it i was the only person who liked their book. THe seccond is even better Haveli i couldnt pit them down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2013

    HORRIBLE

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Anonymous

    For all of you who think that this is not how life is for women and girls in Pakistan, your wrong. Unfortunitly, they are still seen as worthless in society, and are held back from being successful in life and getting an education. It is true though that things are different for women in America. Rules are much less strict, and some women even choose if they want to wear headscarves or not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2012

    Pretty good book

    Thought it moved a little too slow but a good read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Anonymous

    This book was very good. It was interesting to read about what life is like for these girls and it made me very grateful about where i lived and the oppurtunities i had.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    A beautiful work of art!

    I read this novel when I was 14 years old and it has stayed with me for almost 10 years. The journey that this young Muslim girl experiences throughout the novel is captivating. Her spirit was strong and empowering. I will always keep this story close to my heart because it speaks to all nations and races about following your desires through a young innocent Muslim girl.

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  • Posted March 27, 2012

    you must ck it out

    I enjoyed it very much

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2012

    Worst book ever!!

    The author should never write another word. It was very boring and slighty gross. Many things about a girls body. Horrible read.

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  • Posted April 12, 2011

    This book should be on your reading list!

    In third world countries, adults and children are likely to suffer the common cruel poverty that possibly leads to the ruthless cultural restrictions that sometimes are very frightening but of the utmost sacredness to the people. Especially in a strictly religious nation like Pakistan, where almost everyone is a Muslim, people would definitely risk their lives to obey the traditional customs. Shabanu, the narrator who is an 11 year old girl when the book starts, is very fortunate to experience freedom in the Cholistan desert that most girls her age don't have. However, when it comes to the daughter role in the family, Shabanu has to obey everything that her loving Dadi decides, even if it means marrying a man who is old enough to be her grandfather to save her sister's marriage and her family's financial situation. Shabanu is very stubborn and attempts to run away from the situation, but only later finds out that she would cause too much grief along her path of personal freedom. Throughout the book, Shabanu has grown from a young stubborn girl to a young perceptive woman who understands that part of being an adult is to lose her nomadic freedom in the desert, to sacrifice her life for the people she loves, and to not let those who are innocent become involved with her rebellious acts. This is a great novel for anyone who would like to perceive the world in a different way through the strong-willed Shabanu's eyes. It is highly recommended for teenagers and anyone else who is interested in a story of making a crucial decision in life between personal liberty and family's honor. The author has cleverly embedded special native terms so the readers have an exposure to what things would have been called in the real situation. Generally speaking, there isn't anything that the author does to detract from the content of the book. Overall, this novel is quite remarkable because it fully describes the first stage of adolescence, which is often to question how the world works, but unfortunately, Shabanu bitterly finds out that she has no major role in the society because of the gender discriminated society that she is living in. I really enjoyed reading this novel because the author has a great way of writing to attract people and make them want to read more to find out what would happen next to the little girl Shabanu. However, the ending isn't really what I expected it to be, but it is a justifiable ending, which helps people to understand more about Shabanu's individual struggle against society. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind is a highly recommended book that people should read to open their eyes about another part of the world.

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  • Posted August 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Shabanu

    I had this in my cupboard for a while,well actually a few years so i picked it up as i did not have any thing to read,I discovered that it was a good read with a emotional and intriguing storyline and i felt like twelve again,it also is a coming of age story and by finishing it i realise how different the culture is in the story.

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Timely, despite it's original publication date. The series has been optioned for movies with the author writing the scripts.

    Shabanu touches a lot of emotions in the characters and in the reader. The beauty of the desert is combined with the cruelty of a desert life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A 8th grader's viewpoint

    I read this at the age of 10, and while it was really hard to read as a ten year old, I think it is a very good read for a teenager or adult, full of realism and very good writing, though not for the faint of heart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2007

    A reviewer

    I just chose this book for a couple of reasons. 1 it was on my book sugejust list for the project i had to do. 2 the name sounded cool and 3 the cover looked good. these are probly verey stupid thing to choose a book for but the choice led to an amzing book. The things i learned about shabnu's culter and they way of her life just made my world wider. before i knew these things happen but never really came to life before i read this book. Though a lot of bad things happen and i absolutle loved this book. I really hope to get the next book for christmas! I usally never read these types of book but i will defetily now. Once again I loved this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2007

    A reviewer

    I loved this book. I usually don't read these kinds of books but I will now. This book Rocks!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was amazing. There are sexual references, but they are required for the plot. How many adolesants do you know that don't wonder about that area? The only way these references can be uncomfortable is if the reader is not mature enough or interested enough to read it. It shows a lot about middle eastern nomadic culture, and draws the reader in...enthralling them in an ever-changing plot.

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