Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Ellis' No Safe Place

Ellis, Deborah. No Safe Place.
This author of The Breadwinner has no parallel when it comes to stories of children struggling in other countries. We bought some class sets of The Breadwinner to use as a class novel because it is such a powerful story about Afghanistan, and the children always want to read the two sequels on their own.

In No Safe Place, we follow three children who are trying to make their way from Calais to Great Britain by means of a smuggler. Abdul is a Kurd from Bagdad whose parents have both been killed; Cheslav is an orphan from Russia who has run away from a military school; Rosalia is a Roma who is sent to Germany by her uncle to "work", but she escapes when she realizes she will be forced into prostitution. When things go wrong on the channel crossing, their smuggler dies and Jonah, the smuggler's abused nephew joins their group.

The story alternates chapters between the children's trip to Great Britain and their arrival there and the background stories of each of the three. Like Michael's City Boy, Sheth's Boys Without Names, Bernard's Angel Boy, and D'Adamo's Iqbal, this is an important story that will enlighten students to the well-researched plight of immigrant children whose tales are enfolding TODAY, not fifty years ago. Sensitive readers might take offense at how Abdul carries his money (in a body cavity) and at the delicately phrased descriptions of Rosalie's abuse, but as always, Ellis tells such things in a way that makes them clear but not graphic.

Royalties from The Breadwinner have raised over a million dollars for Street Kids International and Women for Women in Afghanistan. Ellis' books will hopefully inspire students to care about children their own age who might not be as well off.

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