Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries. She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-time feminist and anti-war activist, she is best known for The Parvana Trilogy, which has been published around the world in seventeen languages, with more than a million dollars in royalties donated to Street Kids International and to Women for Women, an organization that supports health and education projects in Afghanistan. In 2006, Deb was named to the Order of Ontario.

What was the biggest inspiration for you to become a writer?
'My biggest inspiration to become a writer was the really great books I read - I wanted to be able to do that.'

What was your favourite book as a child?
'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'

What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
'Best thing - when the ideas spark off themselves in my head, also the independence. Worst - back ache from sitting too long at the desk, loneliness, when the work doesn't go well.'

When you're not writing, what do you do?
'When I'm not writing I work at my regular job with women with mental health problems, or I run, or read, or wander around aimlessly.'

If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
'Not a writer? I'd always write, whether I earned money at it or not.'

Where do you do your writing?
'I prefer to write in public places. Canada is full of donut shops where I can sit and write and listen in on other people's conversations.'

Of all the books you have written, which is your favourite?
'A Company of Fools is my favourite of all the books I've written. It was the hardest, and I think it's the best written.'

What makes you laugh?
'Lots of things make me laugh - when people do goofy things, Charlie Brown comics, old movies like Bringing Up Baby, and, when I'm really tired, just about anything.'

What makes you cry?
'Frustration, stupidity, helplessness, feeling powerless - and, when I'm really tired, just about anything.'

Books by Deborah Ellis


Published: August 2022

Based on real-life events, Parvana is the compelling story of a young girl in Afghanistan who is determined to provide for herself and her family. This bestselling novel is recommended by Malala Yousafzai and continues to inspire young readers around the world.

Parvana: A Graphic Novel

Published: January 2018

A stunning graphic novel edition of the internationally bestselling novel and adapted from the Academy Award nominated film 'The Breadwinner'.

The Cat at the Wall

Published: August 2015

If you were given a second chance at life, would you have the courage to do the right thing? A captivating novel set on the West Bank, The Cat at the Wall combines Ellis's respected and unflinching realism with a hint of engaging magic.

Moon at Nine

Published: January 2015

A devastating story of forbidden love set in post-Shah Iran from the internationally bestselling author of the Parvana series.

Parvana's Promise

Published: October 2012

Parvana, now fifteen, is found in a bombed-out school and held as a suspected terrorist by American troops in Afghanistan. A stunning sequel to Parvana and Parvana's Journey.

The Best Day of My Life

Published: February 2012

An absorbing, emotionally engrossing story about a young Indian girl who has to survive by herself on the streets of Kolkata.

No Safe Place

Published: February 2011

A heart-stopping adventure novel based on true-life experiences. From the bestselling author of the Parvana series.

Children of War

Published: August 2009

Years have passed since the US and its allies invaded Iraq, and true democracy has yet to come. Four million Iraqis have been displaced; half are living in desolate tent camps, the others mostly stuck in Jordan and Syria. Deborah Ellis interviews some of the war's most tragic victims - Iraqi children.

Off to War

Published: March 2009

The children of soldiers speak out in this powerful book by the international best-selling author of the Parvana trilogy.

Diego's Pride

Published: March 2008

Further true-to-life adventures for Diego, a gutsy young Bolivian boy caught between fighting for justice and returning home to his family. A brave, revealing novel from the author of the best-selling 'Parvana' books.

Diego! Run

Published: May 2007

A true-to-life adventure story about Diego, a gutsy young Bolivian boy, who needs all his ingenuity and courage to stay alive and help his family. Another brave, revealing novel from the author of the best-selling 'Parvana' books.

The Heaven Shop

Published: February 2005

Compelling and uplifting, The Heaven Shop is a contemporary novel for young people that puts a very real face on the African AIDS pandemic. Binti is a complex character who readers will never forget.

A Company of Fools

Published: March 2004

From the best-selling author of Parvana and Parvana s Journey comes an extraordinary story for young readers, set in fourteenth century France at the time of the Plague; a story about friendship, courage and the importance of resisting hypocrisy and despair.


Published: December 2003

This powerful companion to Parvana and Parvana's Journey, by award winning Canadian author, Deborah Ellis, tells the gripping story of a young girl's fight to make a life for herself outside the refugee camps on the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Looking for X

Published: May 2003

Award-winning junior novel from the author of Parvana and Parvana's Journey, about a young city girl's determination to be herself and keep her family together, against the odds.

Parvana's Journey

Published: November 2002

A sequel to the international young adult bestseller, Parvana, this is the gripping story of a young girl's journey in search of her family, somewhere in war-ravaged Afghanistan, and of her courage and compassion in the face of many shocking hardships along the way.


Published: January 2002

Based closely on real life, this is the exciting and inspiring story of Parvana, a young girl growing up in Afghanistan, as she struggles to make a life for herself and her family under the harsh rule of the Taliban.

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