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published: Aug 2008
ISBN:9781554980284

Off to War

Voices of Soldiers' Children

by Deborah Ellis

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parents, violence, emotions & feelings
0 of 5
0 ratings
rated!
rated!
list price: $9.95
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover Paperback
published: Aug 2008
ISBN:9781554980284
Description

Society of School Librarians International Honor Book

Deborah Ellis has been widely praised for her gripping books portraying the plight of children in war-torn countries. Now she turns her attention closer to home, to the children whose parents are soldiers fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In frank and revealing interviews, they talk about how this experience has marked and shaped their lives.The children, who range in age from 7 to 17, come from all over North America. They were interviewed on military bases, in the streets, in their homes and over the phone. The strength of Off to War is that the children are left to speak for themselves, with little editorial interference beyond a brief introduction.

Includes a glossary, a list of organizations and websites and suggestions for further reading.

About the Author

Deborah Ellis

DEBORAH ELLIS is the award-winning author of several books for kids and teens. She is best known for her novel The Breadwinner, which she wrote following her work at refugee camps in Afghanistan. She has also written on other serious issues affecting young people around the world, including drug use, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and war.

deborahellis.com

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
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Awards
  • Commended, SSLI Honor Book
  • Commended, Library Media Connection (LMC) Editor's Choice Awards - Social Studies
Editorial Reviews

Ellis tells everything without sensationalism...The personal voices are unforgettable.

— Booklist

...Ellis has struck a perfect balance here. This is the kind of book that children from military families will want to read, while civilians...will find that the range of opinions and types of kids in the collection yield fascinating stories...I look forward to reading Ellis's next book, Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees.

— School Library Journal

...gives voice to the children of Canadian and American soldiers...it is their accumulation that makes an impact...Ellis continues to be an important voice of moral and social conscience...

— Kirkus Reviews

Accessible and utterly readable, this book offers a glimpse into current home-front life, and is a primary source of what it means to have a family member serving in a war...the book is an excellent resource for opening discussions about the current events.

— School Library Journal

Powerful and eloquent, Ellis' subjects are sad, scared, funny, angry and loving - just like all kids, but maybe more deeply...Kids with deployed parents will certainly find comfort in the similar feelings and voices of other kids going through the same.

— Copley News Service

...tough, thought-provoking inquiries on subjects ranging from the way the household functions during parental absence, to the way the family adjusts to a soldier's return...Touching and insightful, these voices will appeal to a broad range of readers.

— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

...the voices of these children remind us that when we send an Army off to war, we are sending human beings with families and friends...Ellis offers reader a fascinating, and sometimes searing glimpse into these children's lives as she briefly introduces them and allows them to tell their stories in their own words...compulsively readable.

— Scripps Howard News Service

Ellis...comes home to share stories that remind us that the human cost of war is borne not just by those who fight, but by their families...a rare and deeply affecting glimpse into the lives of children whose voices are seldom heard...a powerful and eloquent statement about the families of the men and women who fight for our country, and the burden they bear

— PR Newswire

Readers will empathize with these children whose lives have been upended by circumstances beyond their control.

— Horn Book

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Reader Reviews

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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children

Funk: North American a dejected state of mind (in a funk). The Canadian Oxford Dictionary definition could describe 11-year-old Alex’s feelings about the period when his dad, a Canadian soldier, was in Afghanistan. “…[I]t’s just me and my mom. It’s a bit sad when he’s away.” Alex’s dad seems to have been in a funk since his return, “it isn’t really sadness, actually. He’s just changed a lot.” Deborah Ellis’ new non-fiction book, Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children, offers almost 30 interviews with the children of American and Canadian men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The author explains in the introduction, “in any war, it is always children who are the biggest losers – children whose voices are rarely heard.”

All children seemed affected by their parents’ deployment, although they coped differently. Their tools include: singing, talking to friends or adults, praying, sending packages, and communicating with their missing parents. Some children benefited from caregivers with inspiring “we’ll get through this” attitudes and firm schedules. Seven-yearold Malia declares she would help make a new routine, and record it “…so Daddy will know what we’re doing while he’s away.” However, Patrick, age 12, the son of an American soldier killed in Iraq, has little to say. “My advice for other military kids? I don’t have any. I’m not a military kid anymore.”

The group’s opinions vary about topics such as armed conflict. They also see advantages and disadvantages to their lives. One girl’s dad doesn’t like to talk too much, but he keeps secrets well. Three Canadian siblings, who currently live in Texas, appreciate that their father’s job has exposed them to life in other countries.

The interviews begin with murky black-and-white portraits, and the children’s names and ages, which range from six to 17. The author situates the child’s current home and presents brief facts not in the Glossary, such as an explanation of ROTC (Reserved Officers’ Training Corps). Then, the narrative splashes unencumbered over three to five pages of text, uninterrupted by headings, sidebars or the interviewer’s questions. Although I miss seeing the questions, understandably Ellis removes them so that the story comes through more directly, a technique she used in Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak.

In elementary and even high schools, Off to War could propel discussions about war, current affairs, or human geography and the “For Further Information” section could spur project research. It is also a thought-provoking read for literary studies with a versatile short-chapter format that adapts to various reading styles.

Thanks to Deborah Ellis, whose non-fiction and fiction projects steadfastly give voice to children living in tough situations. And thank you to the families who shared their lives in Off to War.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2008. Vol.31 No.4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

Off to War: Voices of Soldiers’ Children

Through frank and revealing interviews, readers meet North American children whose parents are soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The subjects, who are seven to 17 years old, remind us that though they live safely in North America, children always suffer when nations go to war. Contains black-andwhite photos and glossary.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2009.

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