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Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis "This sequel to Parvana continues the story of a young girl's struggle to survive in Afghanistan. Parvana's Journey tells of her travel across the war-torn country in search of her mother and sisters. Parvana's courage and determination are tested as she cares for an orphaned baby and the ever prickly one legged boy, Asif. It is a story all the more moving for being based closely on real life. With a lack of sentimental language but a wealth of feeling the author has painted a vivid picture of children coping with the results of war. It made me smile sometimes and also shed tears and it was not a comfortable read for an adult but I want to know more of Parvana." Judith Ettrup, Harris Fields State School

"There have been few children's books in recent years that have made such a strong political statement as this book's predecessor, Parvana. Parvana told the story of a young girl growing up under the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Parvana helps her father (a former teacher who lost one leg in a bomb blast) earn money to support the family by translating and writing letters in the market place. Later she has to disguise herself as a boy to earn money herself when her father is imprisoned. Parvana's Journey continues the story by following Parvana on her search to find her mother after her father dies. Parvana's experiences of moving around her war-torn homeland form the basis of this book. She encounters bombs, land mines, abandoned children, lack of food and clean water. Eventually she and her companions reach a refugee camp where at last some adults are helpful and sympathetic. Whilst Parvana's Journey does not have the focus or immediacy of the original Parvana story, the political message is strong, and the experiences undoubtedly based on realistic experiences. The novel continues the story of a situation that is both fascinating and appalling. Young readers will undoubtedly have a greater understanding of problems faced by refugee children, and for that reason alone the book is to be commended. It is a human story: Parvana is someone they can relate to, identify with. They will be the wiser for reading this moving and engrossing tale." Prue McCausland, Exeter High School

"A thoroughly enjoyable read, keeping the reader moving from a sense of unreal to one of amazement. Following the journey of Parvana kept the reader moving and wondering how such resilience and endurance could exist in one so young. There was a sense of unreal as one sits in a comfortable home, surrounded by young children, and tries to ponder how survival could realistically be maintained in such harsh conditions for days on end. Then a complete shift to amazement and awe as Parvana refocussed her limited energy, ensuring the survival of her new found friends; Hassan, Leila and Asif whilst in a continual search for her own mother. The maturity and resolve of Parvana is set in the opening page as the story opens with her burying her father's body, she is determined to find enough rocks to ensure his grave is adequately covered whilst also concealing her own identity as an unaccompanied girl in the Afghanistan community. To be recognised as a girl would bring additional hurdles and imminent failure of the

continuation of her search. Parvana continues her struggle against all the odds of war, a female and lack of basic necessities to search for her mother. Parvana's plight is increased as she 'meets' and escorts Hassan a young baby, Asif a boy with one amputated leg and Leila a young girl who witnesses the bombing of her grandmother to survival. Parvana leads these other youngsters on a torrid journey through threatening starvation and death, whilst always ensuring their limited comfort as foremost to her own. Possible classroom application suggestions*: Purpose: To enhance a sense of Caring Thinking: Encourage students in pairs to list the number of incidents that Parvana puts the safety/caring of others before herself. Developing an awareness of thinking and caring for others and how it can enhance one's own existence. Pose the following questions for discussion and thought: · How far could Parvana have travelled without Hassan? · Did Hassan, Asif and Leila give extra determination for Parvana to survive? · Did caring for others allow Parvana to refocus her own thoughts away from her own discomfort? · What types of incidents did Parvana endure that would be difficult for a young child? Purpose: To investigate the resilience of the human body: Investigate the events throughout the story which indicate the amount of food or water available to Parvana. Calculate the following: · How much and what type of food was available at any one time? · Was there any 'balance' to their diet? · How much water was available? · What distances might have been travelled by the children?" Leanne Banfield, Geeveston District High School, Tasmania *NB We hope you find these suggestions for classroom discussion useful. They are provided separately from those in Allen & Unwin's Teachers' Notes for this title.

"This book is a fitting sequel to Parvana which was originally published two years earlier. Through the use of dialogue Parvana's Journey quickly introduces the uninitiated reader to Parvana, her family members (now lost and/or deceased) and her situation in a natural and unaffected manner, thus giving a bare bones resume of the first book. Correspondingly , the conclusion of the book is open ended too, allowing the author to move easily into a third in the series should she choose to do so. I read this book on holidays, on a beach side verandah with the sun on my back, but with an increasing chill as I progressed through what is for so many children in Afghanistan not a novel but the story of their lives. As the publisher's note attests, Deborah Ellis has spent some time visiting the area of which she writes and speaking with refugees from the area and her writing conveys a sense of immediacy that reflects the starkness of those personal accounts. The impression that what we are reading is biography rather than fiction is enhanced by the inclusion in both books of maps, glossary and an historical note by the author.

The children in Parvana's Journey have hopes and dreams like all youngsters. "Treasure" for them translates into a life where there is sufficient food, potable water that needs no boiling and "all the children have both arms and legs." The reality of their lives is altogether different however and Deborah Ellis' understated horror makes it all the more grisly. Deborah Ellis has dedicated Parvana's Journey "To children we force to be braver than they should have to be," to the children whose consistent experience leads them to the conclusion early in life that "hope is a waste of time." Parvana's Journey is a well designed book, with comfortable print and strong looking binding. I recommend it - to junior high and to mature year six students - and to adults whose job it is to try to explain the modern world to children. Julie Davies, Sutherland Shire Christian School, NSW


Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis

3 pages

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