Jeanette Winter’s style comes alive in this 2009 picture book, Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan. The colors of the illustrations are rich, deep, and plentiful. I have always appreciated how things are fanciful and realistic at the same time.
This story is based on the story of a girl of Afghanistan, who of course, has had her and her family names changed to protect everyone. This book has come back into our knowledge due to recent events in the country. Worries that they will go back to times like when Nasreen was young, trying to deal with the loss of her parents, hiding away to read a book that was not the Quran, doing the one thing we take for granted, getting an education, have come back into play.
Nasreen’s story was probably like many girls of the time. The Taliban took her father and mother. Nasreen and her grandmother did the best they could to survive. And Nasreen turned inward, not speaking. Not even after her grandmother found the school behind the fence. It would take time, patience from the other students and the teacher before a whisper would leave Nasreen’s lips.
The artwork is classic Winter. The colors pop, the details are plentiful, and everything meshes to create gorgeous imagery to compliment the story. While the story itself is serious, it is presented in a lighter manner but the illustrations help give it a lighter feeling.
A basic, but thoughtful story, Nasreen’s Secrete School is a book that gives you a look at a country with proud people, willing to risk their life, for a little bit of freedom.