The Shepherd's Granddaughter, a children's novel about a Palestinian teen growing up outside of a Palestinian village in the West Bank in the midst of the Middle East conflict, was written by Canadian author Anne Laurel Carter. The book is told through the child Amani's voice. As with Three Wishes, the controversy came long after the publication of the book and was highlighted by its nomination by the Ontario Library Assocation for the Red Maple Award, a program intended to foster reading skills for students, in this case for grades seven and eight.
Critics feel the novel — told from the Palestinian viewpoint with characters' opinions about the conflict ranging from peaceful resistance to militancy, with Amani choosing non-violence — could result in discrimination.
The Jewish Tribune recently wrote an article entitled, "Could This Book Turn Your Child Against Israel" which cites hurtful comments made toward Jews on Goodreads.com. Brian Henry, a parent and the writer of the article believes that although "one book by itself is never going to make any child any sort of bigot. Along with other things though, yes, it could." He add that schools should be "a politics-free zone."
B'nai Brith Canada believes the book "demonizes" Israelis and portrays Palestinians as innocent.
At least one Toronto trustee wants The Shepherd's Granddaughter gone from schools. James Pasternak, a trustee with the Toronto District School Board was quoted by CanWest as saying,
The book is really inappropriate to be presented in this way, in a school setting. It doesn't present a balanced or fair reflection of that conflict zone. It's a biased book that borders on political propaganda.
Sheila Ward, also a Toronto trustee has said she expects people will accuse her of censorship but that she would "move heaven and Earth to have The Shepherd's Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves." She added, "If it means I will not support hate-provoking literature with no redeeming qualities, I am delighted to be called a censor."
The board has received a formal complaint and a vote will take place following a 60-day review.
Anne Laurel Carter, author of The Shepherd's Granddaughter believes that anyone who dismisses the book as hateful misses the point of the book.
The author states,
I appreciate that it's very a sensitive, complex situation but I'm telling a viewpoint that has a right to be told. I did a lot of research to tell the story, and went (to the Middle East) many times, and I have been sympathetic to both sides. As everybody does, I would like to see peace in the Middle East.
Groundwood Books, the publisher has sent a letter to the Toronto School Board asking members to stand up for the book. She says that the book includes "very, very sympathetic Israeli characters," as well as diverse Palestinian ones.
Read The Shepherd's Granddaughter as part of the Banned Book Challenge, or check out lists of challenged books on the right sidebar.