Recommended Author: Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis

Are you looking for a good book to add to you classroom? I can highly recommend any book by Canadian author, Deborah Ellis. Her stories tackle the most amazing topics, that single-handedly break down stereotypes and myths about cultures that many North Americans are unfamiliar with, or misinformed about. She bravely and sensitivley addresses topics on AIDS, the homeless, Middle Eastern cultures, orphans, child labour, drug dealing, the disabled, and more!

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The Breadwinner an inspiring book about a little Afghan girl named Parvana who lives with her once rich family in a bombed out apartment building. Pre-Taliban, her parents were both highly educated professionals , but the Taliban’s strict codes of conduct for women, and the later arrest of her father, leaves the family with no means for survival. Disguised as a boy, and with great courage, Parvana finds a way to provide for her family, while dealing with the devastation all around her. There are two other books in the series, “Parvana’s Journey” and “Mud City“.

Not only is this book an exciting read, but it offers a rare and accessible portrayal of Afghani culture. Parvana’s family is depicted as loving, educated, supportive and highly equitable between the sexes – a nice contrast to post-Taliban values which North Americans have erroneously come to associate with all Middle Eastern peoples.
The Breadwinner is recommended for students in grades 4 to 8, but is an enjoyable read for people of any age.

The Heaven Shop takes place in AIDS-ravaged country of Malawi, where 15 million people live with AIDS and 13 million children are AIDS orphans. The story follows 13-year-old Binti and her siblings after losing their father to AIDS. The heart-wrenching circumstances in which they survive are incompressible. I cannot summarize the story any better than this:

Looking for X follows a young, urban teen who goes looking for her homeless friend.

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak, includes heroines such as Nora, a twelve-year-old girl in a wheel chair; Mohammad, who’s house was demolished by soldiers, and Salam, who’s sister was a suicide bomber.

Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children examines children whose parents are soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how this has shaped their lives.

In contrast, Children of War follows the  most tragic victims of the Iraq war — Iraqi children, who are often penniless, ill, disabled, have parents who are working illegally or not at all.

I am Taxi is about twelve-year-old Diego and his family, home is the San Sebastian Women’s Prison in Cochabamba, Bolivia because his parent’s are mistakenly convicted of drug possession. Diego, desperate to earn money to save his family, works as a virtual slave in an illegal cocaine operation.

In Sacred Leaf, the sequel to I Am a Taxi, Diego is taken in by the Ricardo family. When the army moves in and destroys the family’s coca crop, Diego joins the cocaleros as they protest the army head-on. Both Sacred Leaf and I Am a Taxi depict the price people in Latin America pay for cocaine use in North America.

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