Andrew Clement, who is the master of school stories, adds an internation twist to his usual smart-kids-solving-their-own-problems-when-the-adults-around-them-make-dumb-decisions story plot. Abby is a failing sixth grader in Illinois who agrees on an extra credit project to try to save her grades. Sadeed is a 12-year-old boy from a small village in Afghanistan, and the two of them become the most unlikely of pen pals. There's a lot more to this story than you'd expect, and you will likely learn something by the time you're done reading it. Yes, you should read it, kid and teacher/parent alike.
One big theme in this book is children from very different lives becoming friends, but other important topics in the story include: Life in Afghanistan, rock-climbing, keeping secrets, brother-sister relationships, and the beauty and importance of writing letters.