Deborah Ellis

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Deborah Ellis on Renaissance, Florida, 2011.

Deborah Ellis is a Canadian author.

Early life[edit]

Born in Cochrane, Ontario, Canada, Ellis and her family moved several times during her childhood due to her parent's work. Ellis decided to start writing when she was 11–12 years old.[1]

Writing career[edit]

As she grew, her work and writing was mainly done by traveling and talking to others that have problems and documenting down the main things. She started to write her first book, The Breadwinner, some time later. She had many jobs like anti-war activist.

She traveled to Afghanistan in 1997 to help in refugee camps.[2] From these interviews, she wrote the four part series which includes The Breadwinner, a book about a girl named Parvana;[3][4] Parvana's Journey, its sequel;[5] Mud City, about a girl named Shauzia, Parvana's best friend;[6] and an adult book, Women of the Afghan War.[7] While The Breadwinner was inspired by an interview with a mother in a refugee camp,[8] the subsequent books in the trilogy were more imaginative explorations of how children would survive.

In 1999, her novel Looking for X was published. It follows a young girl in her day-to-day life in a poor area of Toronto[9] and it received the Governor General's Literary Award in 2000.[10][11]

With Eric Walters, Ellis wrote Mama'at happened. Another Ellis book, Bifocal, is about racism and rooting terrorists in Canada.[12]

One of her best known works is The Heaven Shop, which tells of a family of orphans in Malawi who are struggling with sudden displacement as a result of HIV/AIDS impact. The novel was written to dispel myths about HIV/AIDS and celebrate the courage of child sufferers.[13]

In 2008, Ellis published Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories, a collection of short stories that explores the lives of children who have been affected directly, or indirectly, by drugs. The stories are set against backdrops as diverse as the remote north and small town America to Moscow's Red Square and an opium farm in Afghanistan.[14][15]

Later, she wrote one of her most recent bestsellers, I Am A Taxi, which talks about a boy named Diego whose family was framed unfairly for smuggling coca paste to be used for making cocaine. An accident caused Diego's family to owe so much money to the prison in which they are sentenced for 17 years that the boy was so guilty that he ran to get a job. He ended up in coca "pits" where the coca leaves are made into coca paste, and the story follows his adventure from there.[16][17] The sequel, Sacred Leaf, talks about Diego's time with the Ricardo's (a family who helped Diego) and a giant coca leaf protest.;[18] Her most recent novel, "Moon at Nine" (2014, Pajama Press) is a YA novel based on a true story, and is the gripping story of two innocent teenaged girls who are arrested and thrown in prison for being just who they are in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death., ****/4 review in CM Magazine


In 2006, Ellis was named to the Order of Ontario.[19]

Ellis is the recipient of the Governor General's Award,[11] the Jane Addams Children's Book Award,[20] the Vicky Metcalf Award for a body of work,[21] an ALA Notable,[22] and the Children's Africana Book Award Honor Book for Older Readers.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Ellis is a philanthropist, donating almost all of her royalties on her books to such organizations as "Women for Women in Afghanistan" and UNICEF.[24]


These are some works of Deborah Ellis:[25]

  • Moon at Nine (2014)
  • The Breadwinner (2001)
  • Parvana's Journey
  • Mud City
  • My Name is Parvana
  • Women of the Afghan War
  • Looking for X (1999)
  • Bifocal (done with Eric Walters)
  • The Heaven Shop
  • Off to War
  • Children of Mummy
  • A Company of Fools
  • I Am a Taxi
  • Sacred Leaf
  • Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories
  • True Blue (2011)
  • Each Little Bird That Sings
  • No Ordinary Day
  • No Money
  • We Want You to Know: Kids Talk About Bullying
  • Jakeman


  1. ^ Profile of Deborah Ellis, University of Manitoba. Accessed October 6, 2012
  2. ^ Meet Deborah Ellis, Children' Accessed October 8, 2012
  3. ^ The Breadwinner Trilogy by Deborah Ellis – review, The Guardian. Accessed October 7, 2012
  4. ^ The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis, The Literate Mother. Accessed October 7, 2012
  5. ^ Review of Parvana's Journey, CM Magazine, University of Manitoba. Accessed October 7, 2012
  6. ^ Review of Mud City, CM Magazine, University of Manitoba. Accessed October 7, 2012.
  7. ^ Deborah Ellis and CW4WAfghan PARVANA'S FUND. Accessed October 8, 2012
  8. ^ About the authors, Skokie Public Library, Skokie, Illinois. Accessed October 8, 2012
  9. ^ Review of Looking for X, CM Magazine, University of Manitoba. Accessed October 7, 2012
  10. ^ Fitzhenry & Whiteside (June 2005). "Meet Authors & Illustrators: Deborah Ellis". Children's Literature. Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Governor General's Literature Awards: List of winners page 24. Accessed October 6, 2012
  12. ^ Review of Bifocal, CM Magazine, University of Manitoba. Accessed October 7, 2012
  13. ^ Review of The Heaven Shop by CM magazine of the University of Manitoba Accessed October 6, 2012
  14. ^ Review of Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories, CM Magazine, University of Manitoba. Accessed October 7, 2012
  15. ^ Review of Lunch with Lenin and Other Stories by the Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews, Quill & Quire. Accessed October 7, 2012
  16. ^ I am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis Accessed October 7, 2012
  17. ^ Review of I Am a Taxi by the Canada's Magazine of Book News and Reviews, Quill & Quire. Accessed October 7, 2012
  18. ^ Sacred Leaf: The Cocalero Novels, review on Accessed October 7, 2012
  19. ^ Order of Ontario appointments announced 2006 Accessed October 7, 2012
  20. ^ Previous book award winners, Jane Addams Peace Association, pp. 6–7. Accessed October 7, 2012.
  21. ^ Prize History, Vicky Metcalf Award for Children's Literature. Accessed October 7, 2012
  22. ^ 2006 Notable Children's Books, Association for Library Service to Children. American Library Association. Accessed October 7, 2012
  23. ^ Past Winners, Older Readers, Children's Africana Book Awards. Accessed October 7, 2012
  24. ^ Article on Quill & Quire Accessed on October 6, 2012
  25. ^ Page about Deborah Ellis' works Accessed October 6, 2012

External links[edit]