|aThat night's train |cby Ahmad Akbarpour ; translated by Majid Saghafi ; [illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault]
|aToronto |bGroundwood Books/House of Anansi Press|c2012
|a94 p. |bill. |c20 cm.
|aFive-year-old Banafsheh meets a teacher on a train who, after the trip, reneges on her promise to visit the girl, opting instead to write a story about their meeting and encourage her fifth graders to devise their own endings to it
On a train trip with her grandmother, young Banafsheh meets a woman who reminds her of her dead mother. The woman is a teacher and a writer, and she promises she will call Banafsheh and come and tell her stories. Later, the teacher weaves the encounter into a story that she tells to the children in her classroom. The children are entranced by the story and imagine how it will turn out. Surely, they say, the teacher will call the little girl. But the teacher never calls, though Banafsheh waits faithfully by the phone and refuses even to go out to play. Meanwhile, the teacher is disconcerted by her class's reaction, and she agonizes over how to end her story. As a writer, she feels that the story is more important than anything else, and that the ending must be exciting and eventful, no matter what. Perhaps Banafsheh will even have to become ill and die? In the end, the teacher does visit Banafsheh, but finds that it is too little too late. Banafsheh is very angry with the teacher, and hurt. Finally, the teacher makes the biggest sacrifice she knows -- her manuscript -- in order to save the friendship. This is a thought-provoking and emotionally powerful novel that raises intriguing and child-friendly questions about how real life and stories are interwoven, who owns stories, and whether they can ever truly disappear.