The Breadwinner Trilogy

By Debora Ellis

Book Description from Barnes and Noble

Debora Ellis’ trilogy has been a phenomenal success, both critically and commercially. Now young readers can experience this entire epic story in one volume. The Breadwinner is eat in Afghanistan, where 11-year-old Parvana lives with her family in a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul. When her father is arrested for the drive of having a foreign education, the family is left with no money or resources. Forbidden to earn money as a girl, Parvana must transform herself into a boy and become the breadwinner. In Parvana’s Journey, her father has died and the family has scattered. Parvana, now 13 years old, is determined to find them. Again masquerading as a boy, she joins a group of wandering children, all refugees from war, who exist mainly on courage. In Mud City, the focus shifts to 14-year-old Shauzia, who lives in the Widow’s Compound in Pakistan and dreams of escaping to a new life in France. Debora Ellis uses simple, compelling language, memorable characters, and a wealth of imaginative detail in this wrenching look at the human cost of war that is also a surprisingly hopeful story of survival.

My thoughts…

The Breadwinner trilogy is an important read to young children all over the world. For children living in first world countries, grasping the concept of living in a war-torn country is very difficult to understand or fathom. Most children nowadays seem to have a sense of entitlement that prevents them from fully sympathizing with less-fortunate children around them. Reading The Breadwinner trilogy is surely to become an eye opener to children and their parents alike. If you have never lived in a war-torn country, this book will definitely give you plenty to think about and be thankful for.

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

None.

Violence

  • The overall feel of the books is very sad and heart wrenching. The struggles of families and children are displayed in great detail. Children have no hope, their dreams are continuously crushed, and are in a long struggle for survival.
  • In the first book of the trilogy, The Breadwinner, Parvana sees a public prosecution where men accused of stealing have their hands chopped off by the Taliban.
  • In the second book of the trilogy, Parvana’s Journey, Parvana’s father dies of illness and deteriorating health.
  • Also in the second book, Parvana finds a baby under the rubbles of a bombed house crying while his mother lays dead beside him.

Profanity

None.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None.

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

  • Parvana’s older sister is mean to her and continuously puts her down. Her mother also seems to be going through some sort of war-related depression and treats her poorly. Parvana at the beginning of the book states that she hates her sister and she would hate her mother too if she weren’t her mother.
  • In Parvana’s Journey, the kids steal food from a man out of starvation after the man treats them unfairly.
  • Also in Parvana’s Journey, Parvana and another girl start putting some of their food in the ground to “feed” earth believing that feeding the ground would prevent land mines from hurting them.

Positive messages

The Breadwinner is a true masterpiece depicting a little girl’s journey through Afghanistan during war. Each page of the trilogy portrays examples of courage, strength, and resilience. The books demonstrate invaluable messages of empowerment, empathy, and strength present.

Final Verdict

The Breadwinner‘s Parvana has left many readers in awe over her strength and resilience. Reading about the power and resilience of a girl in a war-struck country is sure to be of inspiration to girls around the world. Parents should be aware that the acts of the Taliban in the book are merely those of their ideologies and is far from the teachings of Islam. Children should be able to distinguish between the Taliban ideologies and those of the true Islam. The girls in the book are taught that they are not allowed to leave their homes without a man (Mahram), that they are not allowed to be educated, or work outside their homes. The Taliban also chops of the hands of thieves in public persecutions. A long discussion of Islam’s standing on such behaviours is encouraged in Muslim households.

The Great Shelby Holmes

By Elizabeth Eulberg 

 

From the back cover

As we rounded another corner, Shelby’s eyes go big. She looked like a little kid on Christmas morning. There, parked outside a deli on the opposite side of the street was a cop car with its lights flashing.
Shelby clapped her hands together excitedly. “Watson, I’ve got work to do”.

My thoughts…

John Watson’s mother finally settles with her son in New York City after years of moving around the United States serving at different military bases. Being new to the city, Watson finds himself shadowing his peculiar, yet interesting, neighbor Shelby Holmes: a self-proclaimed best detective in NYC. Watson not only helps his neighbour solve her new case, but also gains a friend along the way.
This book would attract to many young readers for its mysterious plot line and the kids’ impressive detective skills.
The book contains platonic relationship between John Watson and Shelby Holmes.

In a gist…

Extramarital Love/Relationship

– John Watson’s parents are going through a divorce. Not much details are given.
– Platonic relationship between John and Shelby
– In chapter 14, Shelby acts awkwardly around one of the male characters. She speaks nicely with him, which she never does with anyone, and she takes hold of his hand. John suggests she is flirting with him however, at the end of the book it is revealed that what was perceived as “flirtation” was only Shelby collecting clues to solve her case.

Violence

None.

Profanity

None.

Smoking/Intoxicants

None.

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

– John’s parents are going though a divorce where his mother takes him and settles to New York and the father moves elsewhere. Throughout the book, John remembers his father and wishes he was with them. John’s father does not call when he promises to call throughout the story until the end of the book where the father-son relationship seems to heal upon his father’s call.

Final Verdict

This book contains interesting details about detective work and shows Shelby’s plausible abilities at collecting clues and solving mysteries around the city. John is very respectful of his parents and does not keep secrets from his mother. John and Shelby are engaged in an innocent platonic relationship.

Amulet #6: Escape from Lucien

By Kazu Kibuishi

 

From the back cover

A WORTHY MISSION … OR A TRAP?

Navin and his classmates journey to Lucien, a city ravaged by war and plagued by mysterious creatures, where they search for a beacon essential to their fight against the Elf King. Meanwhile, Emily heads back into the Void with Max, one of the Elf King’s loyal followers, when she learns his darkest secrets. The stakes, for both Emily and Navin, are higher than ever.

In a gist…

This is the sixth book of the series Amulet. Emily and Navin continue their quest to restore peace in different cities and fight the Elf King and his followers. The book carries on with the same concepts as the previous books of the series with one exception; the nullification of the mother’s concerns. I couldn’t help but notice by this sixth book of the series how naive Emily and Navin’s mother is and how they lead their own lives their way and she just follows their lead. It must be every child’s wish to have parents that let him do whatever he wants while controlling his parents as well but it was quite disturbing by this sixth book. The mother keeps babbling about how the kids shouldn’t be going out to fight and how they should be sending older people to fight but the children always ignore her or laugh her off and continue with their mission. The children’s neglect to their mother’s advice and commands are quite concerning in my opinion.

Extramarital Love/Relationship

None

Violence

– Their are ghost-like creatures that take over and control some residents of a town.
– An elf punches a boy in the nose and blood is illustrated dripping down the boy’s face.
– The ghost controlling the amulet is displayed and takes away a life.

Profanity

None

Smoking/Intoxicants

None

Degradation of Family/Islamic Values

– The dismissal of Emily and Navin’s mother’s concerns and advice, as mentioned above, is evident on page 20 of the book.
– On page 119, the mayor of Lucien states that she doesn’t believe in “prophecies, miracles, or premonitions” and Navin reassures her that he doesn’t either. The mayor is referring to prophecies given by talking trees but generalizing that one doesn’t believe in all miracles and prophecies may put doubts into young readers’ minds about the miracles and prophecies preformed by real prophets and messengers of Allah.
– the Stonekeeper that allowed his amulet to control him got the ghost of his amulet to prolong his life (page 182) but once her tried to get rid of the ghost’s control of him, it took his life away stating that it let him live longer than he would have without his help. The mere concept of anything prolonging one’s life is haram in Islam. This part of the book contains a form of Shirk in Allah SWT.

Final Verdict

The children’s mother is negated for most of the book, a ghost is believed to have prolonged a boy’s life, and two characters bluntly state that they don’t believe in prophecies and miracles. These are the main concerns I have for this book.

Read! But be careful…

IQRA’… “Read” was the first word revealed to the Prophet Mohammad, Peace and Blessings be upon him. Many scholars have taken the opportunity to translate the significance of such revelation to the importance of reading and learning in Islam. And hence, many parents find themselves urging their children to read more. Young parents take their kids to the libraries and bookstores to pick out books, any books, that may spark their interest. Parents of teens and pre-teens take pride in their children if they find them reading instead of playing video games or watching TV. All these feelings of pride and success are rightly earned, but have you ever thought about what your children are actually learning from the novels they are reading? What sort of imaginary world are the authors of these books taking your children to? What sort of ideologies are the writers subtly passing on to your children through their intriguing stories and captivating writing styles?

If you are an avid book reader yourself, you would know that indulging in a book takes your brain to a whole different world where the author takes full control of your senses and imagination. Our brains are formed in a way that allows it to draw pictures from the words it reads. Therefore the reader may actually feel as if he/she were a part of the story, most likely relating to the lead character in one way or another. More so, your brain’s sensory system gets activated with the words you read. A study by Emory University compared the use of metaphors and their effect on the human brain. Using MRI technology, the researchers were able to prove that the brain is affected by the words it reads. They found that the regions of the brain responsible for texture get activated once a sentence containing a texture word (like “rough”) is used in a sentence. The same type of study was done but using words that would activate the sense of smell like the words “coffee” and “perfume” and similar results were reported – the region of the brain responsible for the sense of smell was activated. These studies show the gross effect of the words we read on our brain.

A more intense study was also conducted by Emory University where they studied the effects of reading a novel 5 days after finishing it. The study concluded that

“’The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,’ said Gregory Berns, the lead author of the study. ‘We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.’ The changes persisted over the five days after finishing the novel, suggesting that reading could possibly make long-lasting changes to the brain.”

Therefore, put your VRs away! Science proves that reading is the best virtual experience your child’s brain could undergo… just be careful which reality you choose to put their brains through!