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Paperback The Breadwinner Book

ISBN: 0888994168

ISBN13: 9780888994165

The Breadwinner

(Book #1 in the The Breadwinner Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

"All girls [should read] The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis." -- Malala Yousafzai, New York Times Eleven-year-old Parvana lives with her family in one room of a bombed-out apartment building in Kabul, Afghanistan's capital city. Parvana's father -- a history teacher until his school was bombed and his health destroyed -- works from a blanket on the ground in the marketplace, reading letters for people who cannot read or write. One day, he is arrested...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Breadwinner

The BreadWinner is a fantastic book.It is full of adventure.It's about a little girl, named Parvana, who lives in Afghanistan during a time when girls weren't allowed to go outside without a man to work and get money. But one day her father went away to prison wich meant they had no other boy to go out and get the food and milk they needed. Soon they needed food so badly they shaved Parvana's hair off so she could look like a boy and could get the food.This was a new experience for Parvana. Every day she would go out and earn money by selling things or reading and writting letters for the people. Then she would buy the food for the family. If you want find out more about this book I think you should read it.


Accomplished actress Rita Wolf ably reads "The Breadwinner," an affecting story of childhood in a repressive land. As difficult as it may be for those of us who live in a free country to imagine, there are parts of the world where women and girls are not allowed to leave the confines of their homes without a man, and they must wear clothing that covers every part of their bodies. A bizarre look back at some nether region? No, it is a way of life in Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Parvana, an 11-year-old girl, lives with her family in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan during the days when the Taliban held sway. Her home is one room in a bomb damaged apartment building. Parvana's father, a former history teacher, now earns the family's living by sitting on a blanket in the marketplace and reading correspondence for those who cannot read or write. While the pittance he earns is negligible, it is something. That is taken away when he is arrested. The charge? He has a foreign education. Now, there is no one to earn a living for the family or even to leave the house to shop for food. Before long it is evident there is only one solution if the family is to survive - Parvana must disguise herself as a boy and become the family's breadwinner. Listeners will be astounded at the strength and courage displayed by Parvana and, quite possibly, be reminded of the bravery evidenced by thousands of youngsters in ravaged countries. "The Breadwinner" is, indeed a sobering story. It is also an uplifting tale of stamina and strength in the face of apparently insurmountable obstacles. - Gail Cooke

Read it WITH a child

My eight year-old and I read it together so we could pause and talk about the story. We wanted to stop and talk about nearly every character and every plot turn. Although some scenes are graphic, they are not gory. This is a conversation starter suitable for a youth book club or enjoying with a friend. We hope Ms Ellis has a sequel planned.

Snapshot of life under Taliban regime.

Life for women under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is not the stuff of which happy children's books are made. There is no happy ending here, regardless of the obstacles which are overcome, because the real-life ending has not yet come. This book, while fiction, is the result of interviews with women who escaped from Kabul and who were living in camps in Pakistan, including one mother who disguised her daughter as a boy. The setting is true to time and place as it captures life for one family in one short period of time. (Ellis is donating the book sales to an organization dedicated to educating girls in refugee camps.)It is a simple story, and engaging, as the reader follows the daily life of a fictional family as they struggle to survive the imprisonment of the father. His absence from the home means that they no longer have food, or communication outside the home because the female members of the family cannot go out unescorted by a male. Parvana, who is pre-adolescent, surrenders her long hair to help her family, and disguised as a boy earns a little money by selling things from their home or reading for the largely illiterate population. Thus she is able to shop for food. Her bravery is the focal point of the story and the reader is reminded of the courage and strength of children everywhere who survive against incredible odds.Ellis has done well to write this as a story for children/young adults. While she doe not gloss over the hard parts of life in Kabul under the Taliban with executions, dismemberment, and imprisonment without a trial or a public charge neither does she dwell on them at length. Being without food or a father is hard enough for one story; living in fear adds more trauma. Everyday hardships such as the closing of school, the absence of music, and the difficulties of communication add to the realities of the story. But Ellis allows Parvana to see a Taliban soldier as human when she reads a letter for the illiterate man and watches his eyes fill with tears. To see the enemy as human is a triumph of the human spirit and gives this book its hope.

Nobody Wins

"Stay away from Afghan women or we'll kill you." Underneath was a crude drawing of a knife with blood dripping from it. This note was delivered in spring last year to Deborah Ellis who was in Peshawar, researching her book The Breadwinner. This is the story of Parvana, an eleven year old girl, who, in order to save herself and herfamily, cuts her hair short and wears the clothes of her older brother, Hossain, killed by a land mine. Back in Toronto, Ellis paired up girls' schools in Ontario with girls' schools in the camps in Peshawar and Quetta. Funds were sent for building classrooms and establishing scholarships. In the spring and fall of 1998, Ellis visited Moscow. By this time she had begun researching the role of women in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. She wanted to find out how this war, which lasted for 10 years, impacted on women from the time it started in 1979 until the present. Her book, Women of the Afghan War,published by Praeger, makes a connection between the women on both sides: the attacker and the attacked. But the most searing indictment of conditions in Afghanistan is her most recent book, The Breadwinner. Written for children and published by Groundwood Books, The Breadwinner evolved from Ellis's conversations with refugee Afghan women and girls. There is a connection between The Breadwinner and Ellis's first book Looking for X, set in Toronto and winner of the Governor General's Award, 2000. In both books strong girl characters work out how to survive in a difficult world. Ellis met the mother and sister of a girl in Kabul who cut off her hair, put on boy's clothes and sold things off a tray in the marketplace to support her family. "They told me a lot of girls were doing this," Ellis said. "Their fathers and brothers were killed or imprisoned, and they have to go out and earn money to support their families ." What she heard reminded Ellis of children's enormous capacity for acts of courage when they cannot rely on the adult world. "Out of the horror of war and oppression that has been Afghanistan for the last two decades rise the voices for girls who insist on saying, 'We're still alive. We're still human. Hear us.'" Parvana has lived for the past year and a half in one small room in Kabul with her father, mother, two sisters and baby brother. To cross this room on the third floor of a bombed out apartment building, Parvana takes ten steps one way and twelve steps the other way. The windows, in con
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