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Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind (Readers Circle) Mass Market Paperback – August 12, 2003

Book 1 of 3 in the Shabanu Series

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Series: Readers Circle
  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (August 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440238560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440238560
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Staples's first book is a beautiful portrayal of the life of a girl growing up among camel-dealing nomads in modern Pakistan. Shabanu knows the way her people, the Cholistanis, have always lived: a daughter abides by her father's decisions, a wife obeys her husband's wishes. Yet Shabanu is strong-willed and independent, and her mother warns, "Shabanu, you are wild as the wind. You must learn to obey. Otherwise . . . I am afraid for you." As the arranged marriage of Shabanu's sister Phulan approaches, and with her own wedding planned for the following year, Shabanu confronts her fear and apprehension. She scarcely knows the man she is expected to wed. What if she does not obey? Before the ceremonies take place, however, disaster strikes. Shabanu and Phulan, out alone and threatened with rape by a powerful local landowner, escape but humiliate him. In revenge, he kills Phulan's betrothed and threatens to cut off the family's water supply. As one condition for restoring peace, Shabanu must marry the landlord's older brother. With the help of a wise, loving aunt, Shabanu learns to curb and conceal her powerful will and channel it to bring her peace of mind. Staples's depiction of desert life is breathtaking. She employs vivid, lyrical metaphors to create the potency of the family's joys and struggles. Shabanu's thorny, poignant coming-of-age will capture the attention of readers young and old. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“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

Customer Reviews

It's almost like she just chopped the chapter off short and stuck it in the next book.
It allows those of us who are unfamiliar with Pakistani culture and Muslim traditions to peek into the very different lifestyle of desert nomads.
A. Cain
Over all I found this to be an interesting book and I would reccomend it to someone looking for a great book to read.
Erin Loughran

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By NY film buff on August 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Book Worm Mama on January 16, 2013
Format: Unknown Binding
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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1998
Format: Turtleback
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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