Afghanistan; Our Questions Answered

It started with a Morris Gleitzman book and ended with a Skype call to a retired Air Force Corporal. Morris’ book, Boy Overboard, really made us think about the lives we lead in Australia compared with the lives of the book’s main characters, Jamal and Bibi.

The book is fiction yet it is based on interviews Morris has conducted with people who have experience of Afghanistan.  Therefore, some parts are very close to what it is like to live in Afghanistan as a kid.  We were surprised to read that Jamal and Bibi were playing near landmines and that Bibi wasn’t allowed outside by herself.  It was also strange to read that the Government had pulled the ribbon out of cassette tapes and thrown it up on to power poles.  Reading that Jamal and Bibi’s house got blown up because their Mum had been running a school in it was so different to how we get to go to school.

All of this made us want to find out more about Afghanistan.  We did some research online at school but we also wished that we could talk to someone.

Our wish came true yesterday when we Skyped with Richard to find out information about Afghanistan. Richard worked in the air-force as an Avionics Technician on the Hercules Aircraft for seven years.  He was deployed to the Middle East for the first time in 2007 and then again in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

We asked Richard LOTS of questions and got LOTS of information.   We’ve summarised what we found out…

In Boy Overboard, Jamal and Bibi were always playing soccer.  We found out that Afghani people not only play soccer, but they like flying kites as well. We learnt that the temperature can reach 40 – 50 degrees!  It can get as high as 60 degrees in an un-air-conditioned aeroplane.  We thought 40 degrees was hot!  It also snows in Afghanistan in winter.  The terrain is very rocky, hilly, dry and dusty.  Jamal played soccer in the desert but there was no mention of snow in the book.  It must have been set in summer time.  We wonder if they have a wet season or not?



We liked seeing the pictures, especially the helicopter and planes.  A Hercules can carry 128 passengers or 92 troops.  Sometimes it carried animals.  Can you imagine the smell after animals had been in the plane for two hours on a hot day?

It was surprising to find out what their currency looks like. It was also interesting to learn that Richard used American dollars when he was there.

He has earned four really cool badges. He has an Iraq Campaign medal, an Afghanistan Campaign medal, Australian Defence medal and a Return from Active Service medal.  He also showed us his badges…. the Bob the Builder one amused us most!

Boy Overboard didn’t talk about food in Afghanistan much.  We found out that Richard ate mostly on the base.  One base even set up its own McDonald’s!

Jamal and Bibi didn’t have any pets.  But, other people in Afghanistan do.  There are lots of goats, chickens, dogs, donkeys and camels.  If you have a donkey you are fairly rich.  It’s like us driving a Rolls Royce!

You can read the full transcript of our call below. Click on the bottom right hand corner to make it full screen.



We really enjoyed our chat with Richard and are very happy that he gave up his time to talk to us.  Thanks Richard!

Do you know anything more about Afghanistan?

Have you ever been overseas?

Do you know anyone that has been to Afghanistan?

18 thoughts on “Afghanistan; Our Questions Answered

    • Hey Karissa,

      It’s Paige and Laikyn here. This year has been so good! We have had a lot of new specalists this term. There is science, singing, cooking and photographic picture taking. How do you like your new high school this year?

      From Paige and Laikyn 🙂

      • Hi Paige and Laikyn,

        High school is cool! Where are u going for high school? Sounds cool that u have cooking and singing! I might come to school and say hi!

        From Karissa

  1. Wonderful work. Great to see a story sparking engagement with the real world. Should be more of it. Good on you all. Morris

    • Hi Morris
      Thank you so much for coming on our blog. Your book was amazing! It made our whole class laugh and I really enjoy/loved the book. We enjoyed your book so much that we decided to read another one of your books. It’s called ‘Girl Underground’.

      See you soon

    • Hi Morris,

      Thank you very much for commenting on our blog! We were super excited to read your message and to know that the man who has made us laugh and nearly cry for much of this term came to read something we wrote! Boy Overboard was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone in our class and gave us a completely different view of the world through Jamal and Bibi’s eyes. Learning more about Afghanistan was interesting for all of us. I think I had just as many questions as the children.

      We are reading Girl Underground at the moment. I wonder where it will lead us?

      Thanks again for visiting and commenting on our blog and of course for writing all the books we enjoy reading so much.

      Miss Crowther 🙂

    • Dear Morris Gleitzman,

      Thank you for posting a comment on our blog! It was very much apprecitated by us 5/6s. We really enjoyed reading Boy Overboard and we think it’s pure genius writing.

      Our favourite character was Bibi. She is really tough and her ‘Camel Snot’ comments made the class fall about laughing. She is very daring as well.

      Where do you get your inspiration from to write books like Boy Overboard and Girl Underground?

      Good job and keep on writing fantastic books,

      Eve and Lily

    • Hi,

      Thank you for writing to us on our blog. I was really surprised when you posted your comment. I love writing narratives.

      I really like your books because they’re funny, interesting, sad and awesome.

      Bye for now,
      from Tahlia

    • Hi Morris,

      Thank you for commenting on our blog, we really do appreciate it.

      We loved your book called Boy Overboard and the characters made us laugh, think hard and almost made us cry, as Miss Crowther said. Our favourite character was Bibi because she had a very funny personality. The funniest thing she sad was, “You dirty little cammel snot”. We also liked her because she said mean things in a way that it didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

      We really liked your book and enjoyed it heaps. Don’t stop making those great and entertaining books of yours! 🙂

      From your favourite fans,
      Chelsea and Billie! 🙂

    • Dear Morris

      Yesterday, or a few days ago, we finished Girl Underground. Girl Underground was pretty cool because lots of places like of course Australia, a desert and a school etc

      From Trent

  2. Hi Morris,
    Thank you for coming on and posting a comment on our blog. We really enjoyed ‘Boy Overboard’ and we are currently reading another outstanding book of yours, ‘Girl Underground’. Do you have any books of yours that you would recommend us to read?
    We hope that you would be able to write back to us.
    From Daniel, Zach and Sam.

  3. Hi Morris

    Thank you for creating that book because it was an amazing story. It made us laugh and almost cry. It is good it is based in Afghanistan because it is true in a way that sometimes that they didn`t have enough schools and they were really poor they had to hunt or plant their food, not enough education, houses are made out of mud and other stuff, sad and happy in the story, very funny in some parts of the story.

    Happy Easter!
    Tanyshah and Monique:)

  4. Hi,

    Thanks for commenting on our blog, oh and thanks for writting such cool books!!! Bibi in Boy Overboard was so funny that I nearly fell of my chair laughing! But, some bits of the book were sad. But, that is what makes a book a good book, when problems get fixed, even sad ones. 🙁

    We have read ‘Boy Overboard’ and now we’re reading ‘Girl Underground’. It’s a really cool book and all of the class like it!!!

    I hope you reply.


  5. Hi 5/6s,

    It sounds like you really enjoyed this book and learnt a lot about the world from it. I love Morris Gleitzman’s books – favourites in our class are the “Once” series which includes Once, Then, Now & After. They have been very popoular with readers in our class for the three years that I’ve been teaching.

    I love that you used Skype to find out more about your topic! What a fantastic tool to find out more details when internet searches just weren’t enough. I think the questions that you asked were great too.
    I haven’t read Boy Overboard but I might move on to it with my class after we finish our current class novel. We are reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. He is another of my favourite authors.
    I have been overseas but never to Afghanistan – only to holiday destinations.

    From your friend, Miss Fraser.

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