You’ll be moved by I Moved My Hand

Moví la mano / I Moved My Hand

When a little girl moves her hand, she changes the world as she discovers it. As she moves her known world she discovers her own power and creates everything anew.

The poem, written by Argentine poet Jorge Luján, comes from a culture saturated with magic in which even the very young can make the world by reaching out and moving it. Mandana Sadat’s imaginative illustrations deepen and enrich the text. Movi la mano / I Moved My Hand is a special contribution to the world of children’s books for the very young (and the not so young).

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Deborah Ellis AMA Round-up

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On Friday, September 19th, Deborah Ellis hosted a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session. We want to thank everyone who participated for the wonderful, thought-provoking and even controversial questions centered around feminism, ideology and Deborah’s fantastic novels. For those of you who missed it, we’ve rounded up some key questions from the discussion:

Q.  In your opinion what’s the most progressive welcoming, women equal country based on opportunity and general equality?

A. I’ve heard that Iceland is very good. Women all over the world have talents to bring forward, and the more chances they get, the better their countries become.

Q. I teach The Breadwinner series to my 8th graders, and fell in love with your book Kids of Kabul last year as a read aloud. That book really showed my students how lucky they are just because of where they are from, and that they can do so much to help other kids in this world. What is the biggest thing you have taken away from your experiences with children in Afghanistan? Do you believe that there is hope to return the country to the way is was 60 years ago?

A. There is always hope. If we get off the backs of the young Afghan people by ceasing military interventions and give them the resources they need to rebuild their country.

Q. What does feminism mean to you?

A. Opportunities for women and for everyone to live the life that they want to live.

Q. When writing The Cat at the Wall, did you travel to the West Bank to talk with people about their experiences?

A. Yes, I traveled to many places in the West Bank including Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah. I met with young people of all ages in different circumstances. They told me about dealing with the Israeli military and wishing they could make friends with Israeli kids.

Q. Do you have a specific process that you follow for writing a novel?

A. I usually start with a question that I want to answer. What if something happens? Then I try to answer it. For example, what would is it like for children growing up under the Taliban? I wanted to try to understand that, so that’s why I wrote The Breadwinner.

Q. Any movie or book in the world, which one do you wish that you’d written?

A. wish I had written From Anna by Jean Little. It’s a book about a family escaping WWII, but it’s also the story of a little girl trying to figure out who she is. It’s written with simplicity and dignity.

Q. Deborah…you have gifted readers with your amazing insightful stories. The latest one that I have recommended and sold is Moon at Nine. What inspired you as a writer to record the real stories of young people seeking some kind of justice to their predicaments?

A. The book Moon at Nine is about two teenage girls who fall in love in 1988 Iran. It’s based on a true story. I met the woman whose story it was, and she asked me to write it for her because she still has family back in Iran. She couldn’t write it herself because it would put them in danger. I’m drawn to stories of courage because they inspire us to have courage in our own lives.

Q. You seem to travel a great deal. When did you decide to venture beyond Canada and write about the world beyond North America?

A. When the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, I wanted to find out more about what those women were going through and how we could be useful back in Canada. So I spent time in the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan meeting with people and hearing their stories. That was the first time I’d ever done anything like that.

Q. What does it feel like to fight for the oppressed and weak? Also, do you think that human’s can ever control their vices like greed, power, and jealousy which lead to evil actions.

A. I’m honoured to be able to meet so many courageous people around the world. About vices, there is a difference between being human and all the things and go with it and making it legal to drop bombs on people in other countries.


20662575Deborah Ellis, best known for her Breadwinner series, has donated more than $1 million in royalties to Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. She has won many awards, including the Governor General’s Award and Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize.

 

Her new novel The Cat at the Wall centers around Clare, a young girl who finds she has been reincarnated as a cat on the West Bank.

 

 

 

Groundwood Books at Word on the Street

Join us on Sunday, September 21 at the Groundwood and House of Anansi booth at the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto! We have visiting authors, fun giveaways, and great books at special low prices!

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Date: Sunday, September 21, 2014
Location: Queen’s Park Circle, booths 153 & 154
Time: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm

We also have creators who will be giving presentations and readings:

Cary Fagan
I Wish I Could Draw
The Children’s Activity Tent
12:15 – 1:00 PM

Jean E. Pendziwol
CBC Presents the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Once Upon a Northern Night
TD Children’s Literature Tent
1:40 – 2:40 PM

Laurel Croza and Matt James
From There to Here
TD Children’s Literature Tent
5:00 – 5:20 PM

We hope to see you there!

Ask Deborah Ellis Anything! Reddit AMA

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With her new book The Cat at the Wall in bookstores now, Deborah Ellis is ready to tell all in her upcoming Reddit AMA (ask me anything) this Friday, September 19th, at 1pm EST.

20662575 The Cat at the Wall follows Clare, an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary reality of being reincarnated as a cat. She finds herself on the West Bank in a house inhabited by two Israeli soldiers and a small Palestinian boy hiding beneath the floorboards. Like all of Deborah Ellis’ work The Cat at the Wall will spark discussion. It will also inspire readers to imagine the power even simple acts can have.

In a recent interview for the New York Times’ Sunday Book Review, Malala Yousafzai named The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis as a book she wished all girls would read. Malala said, “I think it’s important for girls everywhere to learn how women are treated in some societies. But even though Parvana is treated as lesser than boys and men, she never feels that way. She believes in herself and is stronger to fight against hunger, fear and war. Girls like her are an inspiration.” Yousafzai’s interview is an inspiring read in itself and brings to light the importance of writers like Ellis, who are unafraid to tackle tough subjects and bring them to the attention of young readers.

978-1-55498-120-5_lIn her recent nonfiction work Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids, Ellis collected interviews with Indigenous children aged nine to eighteen from across North America and brought their compelling stories into the spotlight. In this book, like her previously acclaimed collections of interviews with Afghan, Iraqi, North American, Israeli, and Palestinian children, Ellis gives children a voice to talk about their cultural identity. It is no surprise that Looks Like Daylight has been announced as a finalist for the 2014 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction.

She continues to post gripping interviews on her personal blog with children whose stories she wants to tell. Her piece for The Guardian entitled “How War Changes People” explores identity as a human right, and describes how war has affected children she has met in war-torn nations. In this essay, Deborah asks, “How do we create an identity for ourselves, and communicate it to others, when all we have known gets stripped away? How do we find the core of who we are in times like this without completely losing our minds?”


 

Deborah Ellis wants to answer any creative, honest, and provocative questions you might have. On Friday, September 19th, sign up for an account on Reddit.com and participate in the AMA session.

DEBORAH ELLIS REDDIT AMA – Friday, September 19th, at 1pm EST

Deb Ellis AMA (dragged)

Joy in the Storm – An Open Letter From Deborah Ellis to the Gaza Strip

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The on-going conflict between Israel and Palestine ebbs and flows in intensity and cruelty. The hardships for children come in the form of bombs from the sky, rocks thrown at car windows, insults at checkpoints and never being sure that the calm of the moment will stretch into the evening.

Kids around the world try to make the best of whatever situation the adult world throws them into. I’ve met kids in refugee camps in Pakistan who make kites from string tied to plastic shopping bags, kids in Zambia who make toys from old tins they find on rubbish tips and kids in prison in Russia who make bracelets from strings torn from their blankets.

The last time I was in Israel and Palestine, in January of 2013, I asked kids what they do to keep themselves feeling as good as possible while the adults around them serve up chaos on a platter for breakfast, lunch and supper.

Yael, a 12 year old Orthodox Jewish boy living in Sderot, next to the Gaza Strip, told me that when the Palestinian bombs rain down on his town, he goes into a shelter and sings psalms, and that helps him feel not so afraid.

A 14 year old Palestinian boy in the southern part of the Gaza Strip told me, “Sometimes we will be out playing football and we’ll hear that the bombs are coming again and we’ll just keep playing. Playing football gives us hope. If we are going to die, we might as well die doing something we love.”

Yaffa, who is nine, is a girl from the Druze community living in the Golan Heights, smack up against the buffer zone between Israel and Syria. She has witnessed large-scale disturbances from refugees breaking through the border and deals with a constant military presence in her town. She chooses to focus on collecting rocks and looking for frogs.

Jabor, a thirteen year old Israeli Arab in Haifa likes to watch Mr. Bean movies when he gets sad, and Jehad, 12, loves to spend time in the children’s library in Ramallah.

All of these children have joys and aspirations that have nothing to do with killing anyone. If left to shape the world on their own, they would make art, play sports, enjoy the natural world and build friendships – all excellent pursuits that would have a lasting positive impact on the world they are going to take over from us.

I wonder what it will take for us to get out of their way and let them get to it.


deb2Deborah Ellis is the author of over twenty beautiful, thought provoking books for young people, including The Breadwinner Trilogy, which has won several literary awards. In her latest work of fiction, The Cat at the Wall, the conflict at the West Bank is told through the eyes of Clare, a young girl who finds herself reincarnated as a cat.

Join Deborah Ellis for a Reddit AMA on Friday, September 19th, at 1pm EST, for a chance to ask her any and all earnest, honest, and provocative questions.

Matt James rediscovers the Northwest Passage

Earlier this week, the news broke that one of the lost ships from Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated 1845 expedition to find the Northwest Passage was found in the Canadian Arctic by Parks Canada. You can read more about this fascinating discovery and story here.

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Naturally, this news story made us think of beloved Groundwood creator Matt James and his unique re-imagining of Stan Rogers’ Northwest Passage, a haunting and moving tribute to the adventurous spirit of explorers and to the beauty of the vast land and icy seas. Here’s what he had to say about the find:

Matt JamesWow! Nice job Parks Canada!

I’m not surprised to hear that the boat was discovered very close to where early Inuit accounts suggested it was to be found.

It’s kinda spooky seeing that “ghost ship” sitting peacefully at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. I wonder what they will find on board?

 

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Northwest Passage

by Stan Rogers and Matt James

Award-winning artist Matt James takes the iconic song “Northwest Passage” by legendary Canadian songwriter and singer Stan Rogers and tells the dramatic story of the search for the elusive route through the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific, which for hundreds of years and once again today, nations, explorers and commercial interests have dreamt of conquering, often with tragic consequences.

You’ll simply love A Simple Case of Angels

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Nicola’s adorable little dog, June Bug, keeps getting into trouble. She steals the neighbor’s turkey, yanks down the Christmas tree and destroys Mum’s almost-finished giant crossword. Everyone is mad, and it looks as though June Bug’s days are numbered.

Will doing a good deed make up for June Bug’s bad behavior?

Nicola certainly hopes so. And when she and June Bug come across a new nursing home in the neighborhood, it feels like a Sign. They volunteer to become regular visitors at Shady Oaks, certain that June Bug’s cute tricks will cheer up the elderly residents.

 

Behind the scenes and between the pages of Any Questions? — Guest Post by Marie-Louise Gay

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At last! I am holding in my hands the fresh-off-the-press copy of my new book, Any Questions? It has been a long time since the seed of the idea for the story started growing, spreading itsroots and stretchingits branches to the sky.

Five years! A lot of things can happen in five years. Small trees grow, children start to read,  grandparents grow old, people stay in one safe place or explore the world while others have no choice. Books are written, songs are sung and new species of animals are discovered.

Five years of exploring a story I wanted to tell. Following paths that got lost in a labyrinth of confusion or petered outinto a dead-end. Five years of searching for the true voice or voices, of looking for colors, textures and rhythm, words, puns and rhymes. Creating  a cast of characters, from polar bears to pterodactyls, elephants to snails, giants and beasts and dozens and dozens of children brimming with questions.

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Five years spent gathering materials, ideas and inspiration to create a story about how to create a story, with words and pictures, based on the wide experience I have had in meeting with children, reading to and with them, drawing and creating stories in schools and librairies and especially answering their endless questions.

I wanted my story to be playful, magical and surprising. I  didn’t want it to be a bookthat tells children how to write, but rather to discover that there are many ways of writingand telling stories.

I wanted children (and adults) to realize that they will be moved to be more creative when they are facing the unknown in that uncertain, scary, exciting mindspace between the time you know you have a story to tell, but before you have found a way to tell it.

I hid details and clues throughout the book, sometimes in plain sight, other times more subtly. For example, take a look at the title page, an illustration of an artist’s studio…

Pore over the tiny sketches that reveal some of the images that you will discover further on in the book (singing dinosaurs, trees running for their lives, caterpillars, snails, cat’s pawprints). With these images you start to understand the creative process, random images that float into your creative radar and weave themselves into the story.

I also invited some of my favorite characters from my other books to take part in Any Questions? I gave them bit parts or cameo roles: Try to find Stella and Sam, Roslyn Rutabaga orCaramba and Portia.

I want this book to have many voices: the Narrator’s voice, the Children and Animal voices, the Second Narrator’s voice in the story-within-a-story. I also wanted to vary the visual design from black and white storyboards…

to full color spreads with another layer of action behind the scenes, to the visual creative process in The Shy Young Giant story where color and collage progressively invade the images.

Enough said!

I hope you enjoy reading, exploring and sharing Any Questions?

By the way, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I might just have some answers…

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