i credit deborah ellis' "three wishes" with really opening my eyes to the whole israeli-palestinian conflict. yes, before anyone thinks i'm completely lost under a rock in the boonies somewhere, i was well aware of the conflict before, but in typical detached north american fashion i never really stopped to wonder where it all started. i do know that i had wondered, and continued to wonder why the palestinians and the israelis couldn't simply agree to disagree on some issues, but still manage to live together peacefully and equitably. that, i believe, remains a very good question. "three wishes" was a deeply moving and disturbing book. it is even more to its credit that several groups attempted (and succeeded in some places) to get it banned.
"off to war" is ellis' next non-fiction offering that examines the plight of children affected by war. this time we are presented with an issue that is perhaps a little closer to home. the children of canadian and american soldiers who have experienced what it is like to have one or both parents sent away to fight in a war. there is incredible contrast among these children in how they react to their parent's departure. some fully support the wars, and their parents, whereas some actively take part in the anti-war movement. some children seem to have been practically indoctrinated by the military to believe that the government is infallible and the wars that their parents are involved in are necessary to protect their personal freedoms. some question the validity of all that they hear. some are far too young to fully comprehend. i have my own personal beliefs when it comes to canadian and american involvement in iraq and afghanistan. it is always good to hear the opinions of others on such weighty matters, and especially to hear the voices of those more directly affected by such conflicts. the one thing that manages to come through crystal clear, through all of the different points of view, is that war creates victims out of those who are not even given a voice in the conflict. as grown-ups make decisions to go to war and kill each other and destroy families and cities and countries it will always be the children who are forced to deal with the outcomes, however brutal.
i look forward to ellis' next book in this series, "children of war: voices of iraqi refugees" to be published by groundwood books. also, i would like to encourage people to buy their own copies of this book as ellis donates all royalties to the children is crisis fund (http://www.ibby.org/).