KidsPost Summer Book Club: ‘A Thousand Questions’ by Saadia Faruqi
By Haben Kelati,
José Elgueta for The Washington Post
by Saadia Faruqi
Ages 9 to 13.
Quill Tree Books
“A Thousand Questions” by Saadia Faruqi is a 2021 KidsPost Summer Book Club selection.
Mimi and Sakina have grown up worlds apart. Mimi lives in Dallas, Texas, and likes to wear T-shirts with silly puns on them. The 11-year-old sticks her tongue out at her mom to tease her. She asks a ton of questions. She also lives with sadness about her dad, whom she has not seen since she was 5 years old.
Sakina, who’s also 11, lives in Karachi, Pakistan. She has a job helping her father with his cooking duties. While at work, she is quiet and gets her tasks done efficiently. She works at home, too, helping her mother with cooking and cleaning. She wants to go to school but has to help her family instead.
The two girls cross paths when Mimi visits Karachi, her mom’s hometown, during the summer before sixth grade. While staying at her wealthy grandparents’ house, she meets Sakina — whose dad is the house cook.
At first, Sakina thinks Mimi is strange and spoiled. Sakina wants to go to school but has to help her family instead. She tells Mimi, “Poor people have to work. We don’t have the luxury of school.”
Mimi, however, is intrigued by Sakina’s seriousness and is determined to become her friend. Sakina realizes that Mimi can help her with something she really wants: to pass an English-language test that would allow her to attend school.
Sakina can help Mimi with something, too. She shows her around Karachi, helping her appreciate a place that is so different from Mimi’s home. Mimi comes to trust Sakina with her feelings about her dad leaving and a secret she’s been hiding about him from her mom.
The girls become close friends while learning from each other. Exploring a new city with Sakina, Mimi begins to appreciate her mother’s hometown and, surprisingly, feels a sense of belonging. She explains to Sakina that, “in the States, all I see is kids who are different from me. Mostly white kids, but also from many other countries. Here, everyone is the same. . . . It feels familiar. Normal.”
Sakina’s English greatly improves through lessons and talking with Mimi. Although Mimi’s family has more money than hers, Sakina realizes how lucky she is to have a father whom she has a great relationship with.
The friends end up needing each other for more than they thought. Mimi and Sakina face unexpected problems having to do with their fathers. Can their newfound friendship help them conquer those challenges?
Click here to join the Summer Book Club.
Charlesbridge You might also like . . . Ten-year-old Naima lives in a Bangladeshi village and loves to paint traditional designs known as alpanas. In “
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After a tragedy strikes her family’s community, Pakistani American Amina tries to fit in at school while staying true to her culture. In “
” (ages 8 to 12), a story about self-acceptance by Hena Khan, Amina struggles to balance two parts of her identity. Do you have a suggestion for a book or two related to our “True Friends” theme? Ask a parent or teacher to fill out the form at the website wapo.st/kidspost_YMAL by July 16, and we may publish your recommendation. In August we will send prize packages to three randomly selected kids who sent in suggestions.
HarperCollins Next time in book club Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée
Ages 8 to 12.
Being friendless hasn’t bothered Jenae, who prefers to seem invisible at school. Her attitude is tested when at the beginning of junior high school she meets a boy named Aubrey. He’s outgoing and doesn’t seem to care what others think of him. Aubrey wants to be Jenae’s friend, even though she isn’t interested. The two become partners for a class debate assignment, something that terrifies Jenae but thrills Aubrey. Jenae knows the assignment is important to him, but she’s not sure she’s courageous enough to speak in front of others.
Join the club The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 6 to 14. They may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book at wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch2021.) The first 700 kids registered will receive a flying disc. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2021. If you have questions, contact [email protected] Listen to Saadia Faruqi talk about “A Thousand Questions” on the “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read” podcast with Zibby Owens and her daughter at the website zibbyowens.com