I don’t usually devote an entire column to one author, but the release of One More Mountain by Deborah Ellis prompts me to celebrate a special writer of books for young people. Books about war torn countries are not easy reading. And they certainly are difficult to write. But these books can serve as a window on the world for people in other countries. They can also serve as an anchor for those who might have lived through circumstances similar to the characters in the book, especially if the book is as well researched and powerfully written as books by Deborah Ellis.
Most of you will be familiar with her older titles: The Breadwinner is the story of 11 year old Parvana and her family’s circumstances living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. This first book in the series was turned into an animated movie.
Parvana’s Journey is the touching story of how Parvana needs to find her family while war rages across the country. The children she meets during her quest are all realistic and share the images so many of us only see on the news.
In Mud City, Parvana’s friend Shauzia ends up in a refugee camp in Pakistan, dreaming of escaping to France. She does manage to leave the camp but only to face a harsh life as a street kid.
The fourth book in the series is My Name Is Parvana. It was named as an IBBY (International Board of Books for Young People) Outstanding International book. Parvana is held as a suspected terrorist by American troops in Afghanistan. Parvana is now fifteen and reminisces about the past years when her family ran a school for girls despite threats from the Taliban.
And for those who have devoured this powerful series of books, there is good news. A brand new title is being released this Fall: One More Mountain is the fifth in the series and focuses on 15 year old Damsa who ends up living in the children’s home established by Parvana’s friend Shauzia. These strong women protect and inspire a new generation of Afghan women. I read this new book shortly after reading Kahled Hussaini’s book And The Mountains Echoes, and found it every bit as riveting. ISBN 978-1-77306-886, Groundwood Books
All royalties from all books are generously being donated to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. Deborah Ellis’ website offers teaching guides for these books, as well as many of her other, equally powerful books, including Off To War and Children of War: www.deborahellis.com
For more details on the books or to order, go to: houseofanansi.com and type ‘Deborah Ellis’ into the search window.
Margriet Ruurs writes books for children and conducts author visits to international school. Read her travel & book blog here: www.globetrottingbooklovers.com