Deborah Ellis. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $14.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-77306-086-6
The image of a seated child—a factory laborer, a boy imprisoned for reasons unknown, among others—opens each of these 11 taut stories, which span countries and cultures but are gracefully linked by themes of hope, identity, and resilience. Ellis (The Cat at the Wall) nimbly slips into the minds of her memorable characters, who weigh their options in the face of significant challenges. Humiliated by her mother and banished to the “time-out chair,” seven-year-old Macie takes refuge in the “forest house” of her imagination. A deeper psychological quandary emerges in “The Question Chair,” about Gretchen, a contemporary German girl who, after a field trip to Auschwitz, agonizes over what stance she and her parents would have taken during the Nazi regime. Several especially hard-hitting stories introduce children (an evacuee in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, an Afghan refugee escaping the Taliban) whose brave actions place them in life-threatening situations. Ellis’s protagonists share the common goal of survival—be it emotional, physical, or both—and her thought-provoking collection should spark wide-ranging discussions about choice and injustice. Ages 10–13. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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