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Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak

Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak

4.7 4
by Deborah Ellis

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Deborah Ellis's enormously popular Breadwinner trilogy recounted the experiences of children living in Afghanistan; now Ellis turns her attention to the young people of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After visiting the region to conduct interviews, she presents their stories here — in their own words. Twelve-year-old Nora, eleven-year-old Mohammad,


Deborah Ellis's enormously popular Breadwinner trilogy recounted the experiences of children living in Afghanistan; now Ellis turns her attention to the young people of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After visiting the region to conduct interviews, she presents their stories here — in their own words. Twelve-year-old Nora, eleven-year-old Mohammad, and many others speak directly about their lives — which prove to be both ordinary and extraordinary: They argue with their siblings. They hate spinach. They have wishes for the future. Yet they have also seen their homes destroyed and families killed, and live amidst constant upheaval and violence.

This simple, telling book allows young readers everywhere to see that the children caught in this conflict are just like them — but living far more difficult and dangerous lives. Without taking sides, it presents an unblinking portrait of children victimized by the endless struggle around them.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis collects 20 heart-wrenching interviews with children, from her travels through Israel and Palestine in the winter of 2002. After opening with the names of the 429 children killed in this conflict between September 2000 and March 2003, the book moves on to the words of such children as Gul, a 12-year-old Israeli boy, who says, "I don't like it that I will have to join the army in a few years, but I don't have a choice.... I've never played soldiers.... Some kids like that sort of thing, but I don't. I prefer basketball." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The author who brought us riveting fiction from the Near and Middle East, like The Breadwinner and Parvana's Journey, now talks to real children, Palestinian and Israeli. Each chapter features a different child from pre-teen to 18; each chapter opens with a few paragraphs of history or explanation. At the beginning, there are six pages of single-spaced names: 429 children under the age of 18 who have died from September 2000 to March 2003. The names are the stark reality behind the statistic Ellis cites that 15% of all casualties were civilians in World War I; up to 50% in World War II; in 2004, 90% of casualties in war are civilians. The depth of anger and hatred in people so young is frightening, but there are also young people who realize "both sides have to give up a little. No one will win completely." The similarity of fears on all sides is striking. Fear becomes anger which becomes ugly in actions like suicide bombings, demeaning checkpoints and newly built walls. One Palestinian girl talks of watching Israeli soldiers demolish her home three times and each time, Israeli volunteers help to rebuild it. Children from both sides talk about how their mothers worry for their safety and the apparent arbitrariness of the killings by the other side. There is a wealth of very personal, readable material that will generate thought-provoking discussion and even allow readers to debate each other by taking on the persona of the young people in the book. The book includes a short bibliography and a list of organizations working to promote peace or help children traumatized by war. 2004, Groundwood Books, Ages 10 up.
—Karen Leggett
In addition to writing such insightful and popular juvenile novels as The Breadwinner (Groundwood, 2001/VOYA June 2001), Ellis does frontline research through interviewing residents in the world's political hot spots as found in her Women of the Afghan War (Praeger, 2000). This book combines her abilities to reach young readers by providing youthful perspectives and through revealing personal observations elicited from Middle Eastern interviewees. Twenty children between the ages of eight and eighteen (the majority in their early teens) contributed to this accessible, engaging, and thought-provoking collection. Living in various circumstances, with personal experiences ranging from relatively protected to suffering immediate personal loss, these young people demonstrate the complexity of the issues that stem from international as well as local events that date back generations. Ellis allows the youth to speak directly to the reader, rather than giving them an editorialized voice or rigid position in any theoretical spectrum. Upon reading any two excerpts, it becomes apparent that both the problems and the possible solutions to the "Middle East crisis" cannot be viewed in black and white terms. To read the collection as a whole is inspiring rather than overwhelming. In addition to giving youth an accessible way of approaching a huge and difficult topic, this book should be required reading for adults who care about children living in any conflict-influenced situation, from Israel to violent neighborhoods in the United States. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, definedas grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Groundwood/Douglas & McIntyre, 112p.; Photos. Maps. Further Reading., Ages 11 to 18.
—Francisca Goldsmith
School Library Journal
Gr 7-9-This collection of accounts from young people between the ages of 8 and 18 portrays the sapping toll of war on their lives. Instead of looking toward their futures, these kids are watching their backs. Instead of playing games of pick-up ball in the street, they're lobbing rocks at soldier's and dodging tear gas and bullets. Israeli students are pressed into military service. In Palestine, the scanty settlements are overcrowded and unsafe. Each narrative is prefaced with a short historical or personal background description providing a point of reference for the sentiments expressed. Ellis effectively remains absent, serving as chronicler for these ordinary kids in traumatic circumstances who are tinged by varying degrees of anger and despair. One Palestinian student, 11, states: "I don't know any Israeli children. I don't want to know any. They hate me, and I hate them." Another child comments: "If I had three wishes I would become a doctor and I would be famous, maybe as a writer. And I would be able to walk." And another individual says that she has just one wish: "I want the war to end, so I can keep living in Israel and raise my children here." Average-quality, black-and-white photos of the narrators and of scenes in Ramallah and elsewhere are included. It's a wonder these children have any wishes at all. An excellent presentation of a confusing historic struggle, told within a palpable, perceptive and empathetic format.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Groundwood Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.42(h) x 0.31(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 Years

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Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Three Wishes is a wonderful book, its about the Isreal and Palestian war. The author, Deborah Ellis, interviews children from both backgrounds, as they describe their hardships and daily life as they watch the war rage on between the two sides. The author does a great job of engaging the reader by writing about different stories that the children talk about. What I liked about this book is that the story is that I was able to hear both sides of the war from what the children had told the author. I think any one who likes to read about world cultures or about world new will enjoy this story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Three Wishes is about the war in the Middle East, involving Israelis and Palestinians. The war began in 1948 and has affected the children who live in the war area. Three Wishes talks about how the children's lives have been affected and includes real interviews with them. Deborah Ellis gives facts about the war situation and causes, and effects it has had on everyone, especially children. The author, Deborah Ellis, does a good job of engaging the reader. She captures your attention with heart-breaking or interesting facts at the beginning of each entry. When you begin to read what the children had to say about their lives and the war, you never want to put it down. Their lives are greatly affected by the war and its amazing ot learn about them. I like this book because it is not something most people would want to read. However, it is so different that it is really interesting to read. It's very enjoyable and captures your attention. I am confused about why the Israelis can at any time start a curfew to shut everything down. Why do they do it if there isn't a legitimate reason? I think anyone who is a young teen and older will enjoy this book because it is very interesting. Although it's not the type of book most teenagers would read, it is very good and you should give it a chance. It opens your eyes to how one person's choice can affect thousands of people and their lives. Three Wishes is a great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago