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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. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“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
From the Paperback edition.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
I am Pakistani and was intrigued by the book's premise, but I have to say this book is very stereotypical describing the characters as oppressed muslims living in the desert. While some of the things in the book are a true depiction of life in the desert, I am baffled why it would be required reading for students in 7th grades as some of the reviews indicate. It is not a Middle Eastern or Arab culture so why would it be assigned reading? The content is way too mature for most middle schoolers discussing sexuality and rape. most students who read it will come away thinking all Pakistanis are practicing this way of life. Camels, deserts, oppressed uneducated women...very cliche. i have never experienced life in Pakistan this way and I hope trachers who are assigning this book are not calling it an Arab culture. Arab and Pakistanis represent 2 different cultures and it worries me that students are given this limite scope of Muslims in the world. I would only recommend this book for adkts and mature teens who have some understanding of different cltures.
This sensitively-written, bittersweet coming-of-age story is set in the Cholistan desert of present day Pakistan. Shabanu, the second daughter in a family of camel-herding nomads, is forced to curb her independent spirit and adopt the traditional Muslim tenets of behavior practiced by her people, yet her family is also warm, protective, and deeply loving. At the age of twelve Shabanu is already engaged to be married to a young cousin she barely knows, but during a visit to the farmlands on the edge of the desert, where her older sister's wedding is about to be held, a violent event shatters the prospects of the whole family. Problems are resolved, but with one tragic result: Shabanu's parents must terminate the engagement to her cousin and promise her to a landowner old enough to be her father. In the end, Shabanu draws on reserves of inner strength to come to a decision about her future. The conclusion leaves the door open for a sequel (the equally moving "Haveli," written in the third person rather than the first person narration of "Shabanu"). This novel, which is now required reading in some middle school humanities classes, is educational and enjoyable, with subject matter suitable for readers 11 and up. (Some references to child marriage and sexuality may be difficult for younger readers to understand.) The characters of Shabanu's parents and other relatives are richly drawn, with an avoidance of the stereotyping often applied to Muslims and traditional Islam.
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I imagine that had I been assigned "Shabanu" in school (say, Junior High or High School) I would have loathed it intensely. Please don't misunderstand this statement. Having read this book on my own I've found it to be infinitely interesting, deep, and touching. Author Suzanne Fisher Staples has written a book that every kid should WANT to read. The problem is, if a child does not want to read it, this book must be incredibly painful to get through. At its best "Shabanu" conjures up a world that few Americans have ever witnessed firsthand. If you think you know an adolescent that could understand "Shabanu"'s understated beauty, definitely consider buying it for them. But please don't make this book required reading. Forcing people to read this tale is the perfect way to make it widely despised.
In the Cholistan Desert of Pakistan lives a family of desert dwellers. Daughters Phulan and Shabanu attend their family's camels alongside their father, mother, grandfather, aunt, and young male cousins. Life in the desert can be difficult, but Shabanu wouldn't have it any other way. She loves tending the camels alongside her father. With her older sister's impending marriage coming up, Shabanu knows that soon her little family will be torn apart. Most of the book concentrates on what it means to live in the Cholistan, often at the mercy of the duststorms and monsoons that help or hurt the region. It isn't until page 191 that the real drama of the book comes into play. When a tragedy hurts Phulan's potential husband, it's up to Shabanu to sacrifice herself for the good of the family. The question becomes, will she do it?
First of all, in spite of its Newbery Honor Award, this book probably should have received a Printz Award instead for young adult literature.Read more ›
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11-year old Shabanu is the youngest child in her family living in the Cholistan desert in Pakistan. She has a difficult life, and she is forced to marry as soon as she becomes a woman. Her life changes forever when she is forced to marry a 55 year old man! This book describes the lifestyle of a young girl growing up in Pakistan. The characters are well developed and the story line is full of excitement and adventure. The different culture in this book is a good thing for young people to learn about. It has happy parts and sad parts, and put together, it makes a excellent book. I think that this book is more suitable for mature readers, as a lot of people at this site gave it two stars or less. I personally think it is one of the best books I have read, and I think it well deserved the Newbery Honor. Now I'm going to read the sequel!
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