After his father's death, twelve-year old Hajdar finds himself the head of his family. In his new role he must make many adult decisions and, when the Russians invade his homeland of Afghanistan, he is faced with the toughest decision of all: whether or not to run away from his own country.
Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists' Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter.
Namelok, a Masai girl, tries to persuade her traditionalist father to delay her initiation and marriage because they will restrict her freedom and keep her from the black rhino mother and baby she is protecting from poachers.
After being kidnapped and brought to the emperor's palace in Gondar, Ethiopia, twelve-year-old Saba discovers that she and her brother are part of the emperor's desperate attempt to consolidate political power in 1846.
In 1991, ten-year-old Nadja begins writing to her cousin in Minnesota, and over the next four years, her letters reveal the horrors of war in this former republic of Yugoslavia, while her cousin's letters give Nadja and her family some hope.
Mariano and his friends are helping their parents turn an old Brazilian coffee plantation into an inn. The children sleep in a shed, which is being converted into guest rooms. One night they hear crying. Gradually, the ghost of Rosario, a young slave from the late 1800s appears to them and tells the story of why she is so sad.Hans Christian Andersen Award-winning author Ana Maria Machado's storytelling skills and social conscience come together in this powerful and moving book that reveals the evil of slavery in a real, immediate and unforgettable way.
Eleven-year-old Noi worries that she will have to stop painting the silk umbrellas her family sells at the market near their Thai village and be forced to join her older sister in difficult work at a local factory instead.
As thirteen-year-old Azad tries desperately to cling to the life he has known, the political situation in Iran during the war with Iraq finally forces his family to flee their home and seek safety elsewhere.
Although Zana, an eleven-year-old Albanian girl, experiences the turmoil and violence of the 1999 conflict in her native Kosovo, she remembers her father's admonition to not let her heart become filled with hate.
Mma lives and works in Johannesburg, far from the village thirteen-year-old Naledi and her younger brother, Tiro, call home. When their baby sister suddenly becomes very sick, Naledi and Tiro know, deep down, that only one person can save her. Bravely, alone, they set off on a journey to find Mma and bring her back. It isn't until they reach the city that they come to understand the dangers of their country, and the painful struggle for freedom and dignity that is taking place all around them.
Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all girls of good families follow this ancient practice, which is also an extremely painful one. Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, she refuses to follow this torturous tradition. As a result, the family of her intended husband breaks their marriage agreement. As she enters adolescence, Ailin finds that her family, shamed by her decision, will no longer support her. Chinese society leaves few options for a single woman of good family, but with bold conviction and an indomitable spirit, Ailin is determined to forge her own destiny. Her story is a tribute to all those whose courage opened new doors for the generations of women who came after them.
In Uganda in 1972, fifteen-year-old Sabine and her family, wealthy citizens of Indian descent, try to preserve their normal life during the ninety days allowed by President Idi Amin for all foreign Indians to leave the country, while soldiers and others terrorize them and people disappear.
In a novel based on Chinese Cinderella tales, fourteen-year-old stepchild Xing-Xing endures a life of neglect and servitude, as her stepmother cruelly mutilates her own child's feet so that she alone might marry well.
At the end of the nineteenth century in Libya, eleven-year-old Malika simultaneously enjoys and feels constricted by the narrow world of women, but an injured stranger enters her home and disrupts the traditional order of things.
In order to save her baby sister, fourteen-year-old Chu Ju leaves her rural home in modern China and earns food and shelter by working on a sampan, tending silk worms, and planting rice seedlings, while wondering if she will ever see her family again.
In Communist China in 1966, eight-year-old Leap Forward learns about freedom while flying kites with his best friend, by trying to get a caged wild bird to sing, and through the music he is learning to play on a bamboo flute. Includes author's notes on his childhood in Beijing, life under Mao Zedong, and the Cultural Revolution.