Deborah Ellis

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Deborah Ellis in 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]

Much of her work as a writer has been inspired by her travels and conversations with people from around the world and their stories. She has held many jobs relating to the Anti-war movement.

She travelled to Afghanistan in 1997 to interview refugees 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] and Mud City, about Shauzia, Parvana's best friend,[6] as well as 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 Bifocal, a novel about racism and 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 the 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 of Canada to Moscow's Red Square to an opium farm in Afghanistan.[14][15]

Later, she wrote one of her most recent best-sellers, I Am A Taxi, which tells the story of a boy named Diego whose family was framed unfairly for smuggling coca paste to be used to produce cocaine. After an accident causes Diego's family to owe money to the prison in which they are incarcerated in, the boy must get a job. He ends up in the coca "pits" where the coca leaves are made into coca paste, and the story follows his adventures from there.[16][17] The sequel, Sacred Leaf, is about Diego's time with the Ricardos (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 the true story of two teenage girls who are arrested and thrown in prison in a country where homosexuality is punishable by death.


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]