Thursday, June 01, 2006

Deborah Ellis Was Here

As I have mentioned in previous posts of April 26 and 28, 2006 and March 7, 2006, Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak has faced controversy in Canada. While first published in 2004, it did not receive wide-spread attention until it had been placed on the Silver Birch List.

The Pelham Public Library invited Deborah Ellis to speak to the controversy and she spoke to an audience of over 50 people. She chose two stories to read -- one from a Palestinian child, one from an Israeli child. Both stories illustrated the universality of being a child -- the "ordinariness" of life -- as they visited a McDonalds or begged a parent to buy a horse. At the same time, the stories spoke to the "extraordinariness" of life in a war zone -- getting in trouble for going out to the corner store, having armed guards at the door of the MacDonalds.

Ellis distanced herself from the school controversies and didn't take any sides in this issue. She did say that the controversy was good in the sense that it got people talking about books and about the issue. She also said that the controversy would not cause her to censor herself in future books.

We need adults who are willing to tackle tough topics and be willing to put them in a format suitable for children. After reading The Breadwinner and "Three Wishes" and meeting Deborah Ellis in person, I would trust her with my children's minds anytime. One young girl at the reading asked what AIDS is after hearing about Ellis' "Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS". I don't think there was one person that wasn't impressed by Deborah's candor and ability to explain without usurping a parent's role.

If we truly believe the world can be changed for the better, one little bit at a time, Deborah Ellis has done more than her share of the work.

Read an interview done with the author by Pulse Niagara prior to the event.

No comments: