Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Featured YA Book: Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis

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Featured YA Book: Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis

Groundwood Books, 2004

This book is about the children of the war-torn Middle East. Deborah Ellis, author of the enormously popular Breadwinner trilogy, turns her attention from the children of Afghanistan to the children of Israel and Palestine, presenting their stories based on interviews done in the winter of 2002 while in Israel and Palestine.

In a rehabilitation center for disabled children, twelve-year-old Nora says she loves the color pink and chewing gum and explains that the wheels of her wheelchair are like her legs. Eleven-year-old Mohammad describes how his house was demolished by soldiers. And we meet twelve-year-old Salam, whose older sister walked into a store in Jerusalem and blew herself up, killing herself and two people, and injuring twenty others.

All these children live both ordinary and extraordinary lives. They argue with their siblings. They hate spinach. They dream about their wishes for the future. They have also seen their homes destroyed, their families killed, and they live in the midst of constant upheaval and violence.

This simple and telling book allows children everywhere to see those caught in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as children just like themselves, but who are living far more difficult, dangerous lives. The book does not take sides, but it does present an unblinking portrait of how victimized these children are by the endless struggle that the adults around them seem unable or unwilling to resolve.

The text includes brief background information, black-and-white photographs taken by the author, a map, a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

Awards and nominations:

  • Selected, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice - Best of the List (2005)
  • Selected, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) YA Top Forty (or so) List (2005)
  • Nominee, OLA Silver Birch Award (2006)
  • Nominee, BC Teen Reader's Choice Award Stellar Awards (2006)
  • Shortlisted, Rocky Mountain Book Award (2007)
  • Starred Selection, CCBC Our Choice (2005)
  • Finalist, Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award (2005)

From the catalogue. Read more about Three Wishes at the Groundwood Books website.

Deborah Ellis was born in 1960 in Cochrane, Ontario, and was raised in Paris, Ontario. While still in high school, she got involved in the anti-nuclear war movement in the late 1970s, and that lead to further involvement in politics, particularly feminism and projects aimed at drawing attention to the consequences of war. She had been writing since she was a child, and published Looking For X in l999, followed by the novels about Afghanistan. She has been able to travel around the world, meeting people who have survived serious calamities brought about by other people's decisions, and has recorded their stories for others to read and learn from. She lives in Simcoe, Ontario. Deborah is Open Book's March Writer in Residence.