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Lit Circles - Primary: Shahana

About the book

Shahana by Rosanne undefinedHawke

‘The banging of the guns went on forever. She could see Tanveer screaming in her mother’s arms, even though she couldn’t hear him. And when the gunfire stopped, Irfan didn’t get up. Nor did her mother.’ p.2 


Shahana lives alone with her young brother in the shadow of the Line of Control, the border patrolled by Pakistani and Indian soldiers that divides Kashmir in two. Life is hard, but Shahana ekes out a living with her beautiful embroidery. Then she finds a boy lying unconscious near the border. Zahid is from across the Line of Control, and Shahana takes a terrible risk by sheltering him. But how can she give Zahid up to the authorities when she knows he'll be imprisoned - or worse?

GENRE: Historical fiction


  • Children and War
  • Survival
  • Perseverance
  • Rights of Children
  • Decision-making

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Extension material

undefinedDr Rosanne Hawke is a children’s author who has written over twenty books for young people. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and teaches at Tabor Adelaide.
Rosanne worked as an aid worker in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Northern Pakistan. She lived in Abbottabad close to Azad Kashmir but was not permitted to cross the border. Rosanne says: ‘It wasn’t until 2006 when I was on an Asialink Writing Fellowship, and the border opened for aid workers helping with the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, that I was able to visit Muzaffarrabad in Azad Kashmir. There was a huge amount of damage, but I could see it had once been a beautiful place. Little is written in papers about how the Kashmiri conflict affects children, but there are some reports on the Web that can be accessed. I wanted to tell these children’s stories, albeit fictitiously, so other young people in peaceful countries like Australia can understand and care.’

Questions for your circle

  • What visual images are created  by Shahana’s dream in the first chapter? What are your initial feelings about the story? 
  • How do you think you would  feel if your were living in a war zone or in fact a child soldier?
  • Why does Mr Nadir employ young boys to work on his carpet looms? 
  • What survival and perseverance strategies has Zahid developed that enable him to cope with both the loss of family members and his experience at the hands of the militants?

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