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Tiny Dancer: The Incredible True Story of a Young Burn Victim's Journey from Afghanistan Hardcover – August 11, 2005

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One fateful day in July 2001, Zubaida, a nine-year-old Afghan girl, slipped while filling a kerosene heater and set herself on fire. Her burns were so severe, no one thought she'd live. But Zubaida survived, and her father brought her all over the region, finally to the American army base in Kandahar, trying to get help. A Green Beret listened, and Zubaida was flown to a specialized burn center in America for a year of reconstructive surgeries. Flacco's depiction of Zubaida's culture shock is remarkable. The TV and film writer explains how, for the first time, Zubaida was going to school, getting to make personal choices and spending time with children who had the luxury of imagining limitless futures. The medically complex procedures were successful; the social adjustments were difficult. With improved language skills, therapy and lots of love from her host family, Zubaida began to thrive (she even appeared on Oprah). But then it was time to return to Afghanistan, where she felt like a model ship in a bottle—perfectly formed but going nowhere. Flacco's empathy and ability to tell Zubaida's story like he's inside her head makes for an engrossing feel-good read. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Zubaida Hasan, a nine-year-old girl in Afghanistan, suffered horrible burns in an accidental kerosene fire in her home. Doctors in several cities did what they could to prevent infection, but all advised her father to take her home and pray for a quick death. Going against tradition, where it would be normal for a father to let his female child die, he prayed not for her death, but for a miracle. His search for better care was rewarded when an American soldier, going against orders, brought Zubaida into the military health-care system. She was transported to the United States, where she spent a year without her family, receiving a series of surgeries designed to restore her terribly disfigured face and body. This is a gripping account from the first few pages, and it never lets go. As readers follow Zubaida's journey, they learn much about the Afghan way of life. There are also stunning examples of the strength of the human spirit and the depth of human kindness.–Gari Plehal, Pohick Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312343337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312343330
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,426,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Aside the main character, Zubaida's strength, this story is about the people who all make the right choices, sometimes against the rules, to help Zubaida heal and have a different life from then on. This book with its positive message makes a great gift, to bring a few moments of happiness and contemplation into someones life. The author manages in the shortness of the book to portrait the many characters with enough depth and contradiction for the story not to be sappy. I have given a few copies to teenage girls with whom the story of a somewhat younger girl resonated. The message, that everyone in ones place has a choice to make a difference and that it matters to help that single person next to you is a powerful one that nowadays young people with material comforts abound often miss and crave.
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Format: Hardcover
If TINY DANCER were only the story of a young Afghan girl who suffered horrific disfigurement, it's unlikely that I would be writing this review. There is no shortage of misery today, and to chronicle only a minute fraction of it would surpass the capacity of the world's library shelves. Even viewed through the insulating filter of news columns or TV bytes, the sheer volume of anguish out there is mercifully numbing-- that is, to the rest of us, if not to its victims.

But Anthony Flacco has done far more than write of the pain of Zubaida, a terribly burned and scarred young Afghan girl; instead, he has crafted an anthem for all who have seen life's cold cruelty and have wished for the power to allieviate even a bit of it.

TINY DANCER is deceptively straighforward. In its skillful narrative, what lesser books would have made the main storyline --that is, Zubaida's accident itself and the gift of hope proffered by generous American benefactor--becomes but a backstory. To be sure, it is a moving backstory: in this part of the story, TINY DANCER is notable in that it is less about affliction than it is about the triumph of compassion.

But Flacco takes the story beyone the "Lifetime Movie Of The Week" -version. Not satisfied with the cliche of a fast fadeout when the girl's hideous scars are erased by plastic surgery, he instead compels us to follow Zubaida's tale onward, even to her fight to reenter her former life in a Third World country.

I won't steal from you the satisfaction of the book's conclusion, or even of the sheer pleasure you will experience in reading TINY DANCER yourself. Suffice it to say that once you open this book, you will find your perceptions --indeed, likely yourSELF-- indelibly altered.

--Earl Merkel
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Format: Hardcover
Zubaida's story is one of strength and faith with a little bit of miracle thrown in. Her strength to withstand excruciating pain, in the weeks and months following the accident and in the years since as she has endured countless medical procedures, is a powerful lesson how compelling the power to live can be.

Her father's faithfulness and tireless effots to save his little girl are testimony to a parent's unrelenting prayer that their child will have a full and happy life. For him to dedicate so much of his time and energy, and the family's resources to help his daughter (in a country that traditionally de-values girls) leaves me awe-struck.

Finally, placing that child in the loving and expertly-skilled hands of the Grossmans is proof enough to me that miracles do occur around us every day. Their dedication to this child and others like her leave me striving to do more with the talents and gifts God has entrusted to me.

God bless you all.

~t~
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Format: Hardcover
Thank you so much for the gift of "Tiny Dancer". What an absolutely amazing story of courage and human resiliance. I was thoroughly absorbed by the story which is so well written and totally gut wrenching. In these difficult times when we are so overwhelmed by "bad" news on a daily basis it was such a treat to read this inspirational story of hope and courage.

God bless Zubaida's "little cotton socks". It seems clear that destiny has something great in store for her and hopefully her life will have a wonderful positive impact on her country and the world in general.

Tony Baarda
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is such an incredible story, so inspiring, that I gave away my copy of the book to a friend and bought another for me. I may have to pass this on and just keep buying the book. Not only is it a good story to begin with, but I like the way author Flacco tells the story. As I write this, we are staying with friends in San Antonio, Texas...after evacuating from Houston for hurricane Rita. Our home is on the water and may now exist after tomorrow. Hard to get too upset over that once you know Zubaida's story...
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Format: Hardcover
What an incredible story of real life perseverance through the life of this heroically strong willed child. In the world of problems and fighting, this is an amazing real life story about people from all around the world of different lifestyles and beliefs joining together for one little girl. That union has lead to changing so many lives and beliefs and has resulted in the beautiful must read of TINY DANCER. Read this book and share with your family and friends to uplift your spirits and life.
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