Friday, March 24, 2006

Canadian Author Speaks out about her book

Deborah Ellis has spoken out about the controversy that has surrounded her book. She's an amazing individual, it's too bad she has to waste her time defending her own work...ah, but that is the way of things.

Art

http://www.cbc.ca/story/arts/national/2006/03/23/threewishes-ellis.html?ref=rss
Author of book on Palestinian, Israeli children speaks out
Last Updated Thu, 23 Mar 2006 17:15:31 EST
CBC Arts
Canadian author Deborah Ellis says it's absurd to say children can't handle the contents of her controversial book Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak.

In February, the Canadian Jewish Congress put pressure on the Ontario Library Association and Ontario school boards to remove the book from their reading lists for Grades 4 to 6.

The Toronto and York school boards pulled the book from their reading programs. But the Ontario Library Association decided to keep the book on its Silver Birch reading program which encourages children in Grades 4 to 6 to read independently.

The CJC said the book was inappropriate for children in that age group. Ellis's book allows Palestinian and Israeli children to tell their stories in their own words.

"The people who are raising the objections are good people … I just happen to disagree with them," Ellis told CBC Radio Thursday, in her first interview since the book was restricted by the two school boards.

"There's a desire to protect children from the horrors of the world at the same time other children are being exposed to it," said Ellis. "The more information kids have about things that are going on in the world, the better decisions they will make."

Ellis interviewed Israeli and Palestinian children involved in the conflict in 2002. Among the children she met was a young girl whose older sister was a suicide bomber.

The CJC says children can be impressionable and may view suicide bombings and killing of Israelis as "acts worthy of emulating." It cites comments from the book such as this one from an 11-year-old Palestinian boy: "Killing an Israeli will make me feel glad. It will make me feel strong."

The Ontario Library Association says it picked the book because, "without taking sides, it presents an unblinking portrait of children victimized by the endless struggle around them."

Ellis says she didn't speak out about the controversy until now because she felt it would die down. She says she is disappointed by the decision made by the school boards.

"In Toronto, where we have such a wonderful mixture of people from all around the world, there are kids in every classroom whose parents have experienced this violence in some form. So to say they can't handle the truth and the things that are contained in this book strikes me as absurd."

The author says she gets emails from young readers who say they can identify with the children in the book and liked reading it.

Ellis says the controversy has only served to highlight the issue of children living in the midst of war.

5 Comments:

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2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I think I have to recuse myself from this particular AS IF case. As a person of Jewish descent, I am just too close to the issue. Also, I believe that words celebrating the murder of anyone based on race or ethnicity are the equivalent of incitement, or of shouting, "Fire!" in a crowded theater. And it seems from the "pull quotes" that have come out of this particular book, there is straightforward incitement to (or at least celebration of) murder. I certainly would fight to keep this book in libraries, just like I would fight to keep _Mein Kampf_ available. But giving the book an award that promotes it for widespread 4th grade reading seems like a different thing to me.

Jordan Sonnenblick

6:32 PM  
Blogger Arthur Slade said...

Understood, Jordan. Though I would argue the comments from the "pull quotes" are what children need to read. That one quote is shocking, especially since it's from a child the same age as the readers. I would hope that reading that would make the children inquisitive about why such hate exists and that they'd learn to understand the situation in the Middle East better.

Uh, I know you didn't mean put this book on the same level as Mein Kampf. It seems to me it's really an honest book about peace and understanding.

Art Slade

8:22 PM  
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