Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS


Stories of survival.

Songs of hope.

Children you'll never forget.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are more than 11.5 million orphans. The AIDS pandemic has claimed their...

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Stories of survival.

Songs of hope.

Children you'll never forget.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are more than 11.5 million orphans. The AIDS pandemic has claimed their parents, their aunts, and their uncles. What is life like for these children? Who do they care for, and who cares for them?

Come and meet them. They might surprise you.

Royalties from this book will be donated to UNICEF

Awards and Nominations:

  • Winner, Book Link Best Book for the Classroom, 2005
  • Winner, School Library Journal Best Book of 2005
  • Finalist, 2006 Information Book Award
  • Runner-up, National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Book Award for 2005
  • 2006 Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award short list
  • 2006 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction finalist
  • Red Maple Award for Non-fiction shortlist, 2007
  • Garden State Teen Book Awards nominee 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS, Deborah Ellis (Breadwinner) collects accounts from children in their own words, such as that of eight-year-old Collins in Chowomba, the capital of Zambia, who remembers that his father "suffered from bad headaches and also he ran out of blood"; and 16-year-old orphaned Maten who was essentially taken in as a slave, promised pay but never given any and nearly starved to death. The brief bios demonstrate that the disease spares no one-soldier, businesswoman, farmer; sidebars describe the use of child labor and the staggering number of orphans in Africa (15 million). Among the tragic stories there are also tales of hope. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
I really do not think there is any way to understand the impact of AIDS in Africa or anywhere, but especially there. Deborah Ellis has tried in her book to bring real stories from young people whose lives have been severely impacted by this disease. She went to Africa, interviewed kids, and here presents their stories. Several things come across to this reader—one, the amazing fortitude and positive outlook of most of these kids in spite of the terrible poverty, hardships, and loss of loved ones. They dream of a better world and being there to make it better. Today in this country we are all wrought up with the "war" in Iraq and, horrible as it is, we talk about thousands of Americans dying. In Sub-Saharan Africa AIDS has created more than eleven million orphans, and that number will come close to doubling by 2020. It really makes other problems and issues pale by comparison, but there just does not seem to be the focus of attention, money, and commitment to eradicate or control the spread of AIDS. Aside from the grinding poverty of this region, there is massive ignorance about AIDS—together, it seems like the situation is irresolvable. I cannot believe there is not something that those of us who are better informed and living comfortably cannot do. These children have not given up and the world should not give up on them. The stories should be available to all young readers, because they are the ones who will be facing even harder decisions when they become young adults. The author has donated the royalties from this book to UNICEF. 2005, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Ages 12 up.
—Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-In the summer of 2003, Ellis traveled to Malawi and Zambia and met with children and teens whose lives have been touched by AIDS. In short, autobiographical vignettes, the young people, many of whom are orphans or living on the street, discuss their families, their favorite pastimes, their fears, and their dreams. Poignant and often bleak, the stories paint a portrait of life in Africa and the epidemic that goes far beyond impersonal news headlines. Photographs, printed in sepia tones, give a face to each story. Facts about AIDS are interspersed throughout the text and quotes from writers and public figures set the tone for each chapter. Ellis presents the stories in a matter-of-fact and compassionate manner that maintains the children's dignity. Despite the tragedies, hardships, and grief expressed, many of the young people face their day-to-day lives with courage and manage to maintain hope for the future. Several describe efforts to help others and to bring about change in their society. An impressive offering whose chilling accounts remain with readers long after the book is finished.-Melissa Christy Buron, Epps Island Elementary, Houston, TX Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781550419122
  • Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
  • Publication date: 8/8/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Age range: 11 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.48 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Deborah Ellis was born in Northern Ontario but grew up in Paris, Ontario. Like many writers, she was a creative loner as a child, at odds with formal education in her youth, and a voracious reader at all times. As an adult, Deborah has been occupied with many issues of interest to women, such as peace, education and equality in society at home and abroad. She works at a group home for women in Toronto, reading and writing in her spare time. In 2006 Deborah was named to the Order of Ontario.

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