That Night’s Train

Ahmad Akbarpour, trans. from the Persian by Majid Saghafi, illus. by Isabelle Arsenault. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $14.95 (96p) ISBN 978-1-55498-169-4
First published in 1999, Iranian writer Akbarpour’s (Good Night, Commander) story starts during the train journey of the title, as a teacher, never named, befriends Banafsheh, a motherless five-year-old girl. With uncanny insight into the chasm between the casual words of adults and the literal way they are grasped by children, Akbarpour portrays Banafsheh’s conviction that the friendly teacher will call her on the very day she has promised and, further, that she will one day replace the mother Banafsheh has so recently lost: “She imagined the teacher really coming to visit and how she would talk to her easily and openly. She would say, ‘I knew God would send me a mother.’ ” With little concern for Banafsheh’s anguish, the teacher—who is also a writer—does not call for months, and the novel switches viewpoints to explore the teacher-writer’s inner life and the way her fictional creations intertwine with reality. Despite a last-minute happy ending and an omniscient narrative that tempers some of the tension of Banafsheh’s long wait, Akbarpour’s record of a child’s grief may hit too hard for some. Ages 9–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 978-1-55498-306-3
Paperback - 94 pages - 978-1-55498-170-0
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