07 March 2006

Children's Book Under Fire in Ontario

Ontario's York Region District School Board has taken Deborah Ellis's children's book, Three Wishes, out of the running for the Silver Birch Awards. Apparently the Canadian Jewish Congress has raised concerns about the book. Tess Kalinowski, reporter for the Toronto Star, writes that the CJC "says the book lacks historical context and raises issues that children in those grades aren't equipped to understand. It has said Three Wishes portrays Israelis as 'brutal occupiers' and Palestinians as 'murderers who are so intent on killing Israelis that they are prepared to blow themselves to shreds.'" Kalinowski goes on to say, "In the book, Ellis interviews children on both sides of the conflict. They talk about living in a hate-charged atmosphere where suicide bombings and gun-toting soldiers are everyday realities. But they also discuss eating at McDonald's, being annoyed by siblings and what they want to be when they grow up." You can read the full text of the article here. The book remains in contention for the award in other school regions. The Silver Birch Awards feature a selection of 20 books chosen by librarians. Children in grades 4-6 then have the opportunity to vote on them. Via the League of Canadian Poets newsletter.

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