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Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak

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In a rehabilitation center for disabled children, twelve-year-old Nora says she loves the color pink and chewing gum and explains that the wheels of her wheelchair are like her legs. Eleven-year-old Mohammad describes how his house was demolished by soldiers. And we meet twelve-year-old Salam, whose older sister walked into a store in Jerusalem and blew herself up, killing In a rehabilitation center for disabled children, twelve-year-old Nora says she loves the color pink and chewing gum and explains that the wheels of her wheelchair are like her legs. Eleven-year-old Mohammad describes how his house was demolished by soldiers. And we meet twelve-year-old Salam, whose older sister walked into a store in Jerusalem and blew herself up, killing herself and two people, and injuring twenty others. All these children live both ordinary and extraordinary lives. They argue with their siblings. They dream about their wishes for the future. They have also seen their homes destroyed, their families killed, and they live in the midst of constant upheaval and violence. This simple and telling book allows children everywhere to see those caught in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as children just like themselves, but who are living far more difficult, dangerous lives.


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In a rehabilitation center for disabled children, twelve-year-old Nora says she loves the color pink and chewing gum and explains that the wheels of her wheelchair are like her legs. Eleven-year-old Mohammad describes how his house was demolished by soldiers. And we meet twelve-year-old Salam, whose older sister walked into a store in Jerusalem and blew herself up, killing In a rehabilitation center for disabled children, twelve-year-old Nora says she loves the color pink and chewing gum and explains that the wheels of her wheelchair are like her legs. Eleven-year-old Mohammad describes how his house was demolished by soldiers. And we meet twelve-year-old Salam, whose older sister walked into a store in Jerusalem and blew herself up, killing herself and two people, and injuring twenty others. All these children live both ordinary and extraordinary lives. They argue with their siblings. They dream about their wishes for the future. They have also seen their homes destroyed, their families killed, and they live in the midst of constant upheaval and violence. This simple and telling book allows children everywhere to see those caught in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as children just like themselves, but who are living far more difficult, dangerous lives.

30 review for Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Pegram

    This book consists of the stories of children living in Palestine and Israel as told during interviews with the author. Each story is introduced by the author with some information about the particular area in which the child lives and some explanation of the political climate that they must cope with. The stories are told in first person from the perspective of each child and address a variety of topics including the dangers of war, the loss of family, the difficulties they face getting to scho This book consists of the stories of children living in Palestine and Israel as told during interviews with the author. Each story is introduced by the author with some information about the particular area in which the child lives and some explanation of the political climate that they must cope with. The stories are told in first person from the perspective of each child and address a variety of topics including the dangers of war, the loss of family, the difficulties they face getting to school or work and their ideas and hopes for the future. While these stories are powerful, I did find that they became a bit repetitive when read back to back. In addition they touched on intense experiences - one was told by a girl whose sister had chosen to be a suicide bomber. As a teacher, I recognized that most students would need a great deal of background knowledge in order to make sense of the geography and politics that they discuss. Appropriate for middle to high school level students, I think that this book would be best used in excerpts where you paired the story of a Palestinian child with that of an Israeli child who were sharing parallel stories. I read this story in digital format. This did impact the quality as the photographs were too small to see well.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gavin Cote

    A very powerful story. The author Deborah Ellis spent time in Israel and Palestine and interviewed multiple children from both countries. She asked them each what their three wishes were. Some said some normal things like what jobs they wanted. But some said sad stuff like, they just wanted peace in their country.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    Wow! I thought Ellis' approach to telling this story was so powerful. Having children tell us through their eyes what is happening in the middle east makes sitting by and doing nothing near impossible. You can see the hate and disheartening beliefs develop and become more prevalent within the children as they get older. You can also see what a struggle it is to grow up in a war zone. I thought about other ways I might want to see the results of her interview. Like for instance having one question Wow! I thought Ellis' approach to telling this story was so powerful. Having children tell us through their eyes what is happening in the middle east makes sitting by and doing nothing near impossible. You can see the hate and disheartening beliefs develop and become more prevalent within the children as they get older. You can also see what a struggle it is to grow up in a war zone. I thought about other ways I might want to see the results of her interview. Like for instance having one question then seeing all the Israeli responses then the Palestinian responses. In this way it would be more easy to contrast the two situations. However, I think Ellis wrote this book for children to highlight how we are all the same people to some extent. Her goal, unlike so much that is out there on this conflict, was not to highlight the differences.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Karah

    The violence inhibited Deborah Ellis's capacity to gather more interviews for this book. There is a song by Bob Marley called "So Much Trouble in the World". That song describes this book. It has been over 15 years since this edition was published so these children are adults if they are still alive. I wonder how much their opinions have changed. The violence inhibited Deborah Ellis's capacity to gather more interviews for this book. There is a song by Bob Marley called "So Much Trouble in the World". That song describes this book. It has been over 15 years since this edition was published so these children are adults if they are still alive. I wonder how much their opinions have changed.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Casey Strauss

    In November and December of 2002 Deborah Ellis spent time in Israel and Palestinian territories interviewing youth from numerous backgrounds. Ellis’ book is filled with different perspectives and voices Israeli and Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish ranging in range from eight to eighteen. The stories are told from the children’s perspectives, in first person narration. In some ways, they sound like typical kids, speaking of video games, annoying siblings, and school. When they speak abo In November and December of 2002 Deborah Ellis spent time in Israel and Palestinian territories interviewing youth from numerous backgrounds. Ellis’ book is filled with different perspectives and voices Israeli and Palestinian, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish ranging in range from eight to eighteen. The stories are told from the children’s perspectives, in first person narration. In some ways, they sound like typical kids, speaking of video games, annoying siblings, and school. When they speak about their lives, a varying range of emotions come through, anger, frustration, hatred, and hope. On girl reflects, “You never know when a bomb will explode…It doesn’t help to lead a good life. Well, it’s important to lead a good life, but being good doesn’t protect you from the bombs.” Their voices are honest, and their stories give a glimpse into what life is like for children growing up in this part of the world. Ellis has created a book that is both engaging and informative. At the front of the book is a map and introduction by the author which gives the reader background information before starting the book. Students need to be aware and conscious of the world that is around them. After the introduction by Ellis is four pages filled with the names and ages of the 429 children under thee age of eighteen that have died between September 29,200 and March 7, 2003. This section of the book alone could be used to start a discussion in a middle school classroom. Historical information and a picture of the child accompany each story. The voices are straightforward and honest in discussing what their lives are like, what their fears are, as well as what they want in the future. This book could be used in a Middle East unit, or to give students a perspective on what youth around the world are dealing with. One or two stories can be shared at a time; the entire book doesn’t have to be read in one sitting. This book could be partnered with A Little Piece of Ground, by Elizabeth Laird, which tells the story of a young boy living under military occupation in Palestine.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marija

    I loved that this book was written from the perspective of children from both sides of the Israeli conflict. I thought it was interesting to see the very many perspectives on the war, especially through the eyes of children. The Israeli conflict has been going on for several generations, however, here in the U.S. we don't hear much about how this conflict afflicts the people of Israel and their everyday lives. I was very surprised to see that the stories carried a common thread throughout. Most o I loved that this book was written from the perspective of children from both sides of the Israeli conflict. I thought it was interesting to see the very many perspectives on the war, especially through the eyes of children. The Israeli conflict has been going on for several generations, however, here in the U.S. we don't hear much about how this conflict afflicts the people of Israel and their everyday lives. I was very surprised to see that the stories carried a common thread throughout. Most of the Palestinian children spoke of unfair treatment, and being bullied by the Israeli army. The Israeli children spoke of their fears of being in public places. All throughout the book, you get a sense that the treatment of the Palestinians is brutal and wrong. Although I do understand the Israeli point of view, it seems that they are not as deprived of their lives as the Palestinians are. It almost seems that the Palestinian people have been stripped of their civil liberties. I feel that I definitely need to read more about this conflict, so that I can gain a better sense of what my opinion is. This would be a great book to add to my library collection so that my students can learn about current history through the stories of their peers in Israel.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jackie Mills

    This book was part of a library display of books that people had asked to be banned called "freedom to read." There was a paper with an explanation of why a person or group had requested the book be banned attached to the book. I was curious as to why someone or a group would want to ban Three Wishes. The concept is excellent and the children's stories of life in Israel or the disputed lands surrounding it were so sad! A very tough read and the author's point of the book, what war does to childr This book was part of a library display of books that people had asked to be banned called "freedom to read." There was a paper with an explanation of why a person or group had requested the book be banned attached to the book. I was curious as to why someone or a group would want to ban Three Wishes. The concept is excellent and the children's stories of life in Israel or the disputed lands surrounding it were so sad! A very tough read and the author's point of the book, what war does to children, is made very clear. However, I can see why the book was contentious. It'n not the children's stories, but the Ms Ellis leaves out details and sometimes is inaccurate in her introductions to the stories. That leads to bias. For instance when telling a brief background to the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict. She talks bout the Jews moving into an area where Palestinians and Arabs were already living, omitting the fact that Jews were already living there too. She continually refers to the West Bank as Palestinian territory. At this point the area is disputed territory. It was Jordanian until 1967, and Ottoman before that, it was never Palestinian in the past. (with Jordan giving all residents in the area Jordanian citizenship). There are many, many similar "omissions" throughout the book. Ms Ellis has written some brilliantly caring children's literature but it would be prudent for her to edit her introductions for accuracy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    At my synagogue(s) I had often heard about the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, especially during the rabbis’ sermons. I realized that the destructive fighting had escalated as the years went on. However, I had often tuned some of it out, not fully grasping the horrors that were going on over there. After all, I live in America. I do not live in the vicinity of this conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware of the situation, and I did care about the violence and bloodshed, how At my synagogue(s) I had often heard about the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis, especially during the rabbis’ sermons. I realized that the destructive fighting had escalated as the years went on. However, I had often tuned some of it out, not fully grasping the horrors that were going on over there. After all, I live in America. I do not live in the vicinity of this conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I was aware of the situation, and I did care about the violence and bloodshed, however, until reading this book, I did not realize the extent of the situation, especially when it came to the lives of the children living there. As the title suggests, in this book children from both sides of the conflict tell about their experiences living in this war-zone. The children, ranging in ages from 8 to 18, are frank about what is happening around them. The author gives us background before each child’s own words, helping us to understand more about their situation and the specific foci of the child’s story. It hardly seems fair to call them children, though, after reading these, as they have seen and dealt with so many adult issues and such violence. Many know people who have been killed or seriously injured in the destructive practices there. There are many themes that are brought numerous times in the interviews; violence, hatred, and fear being top among these. Violence is seen or heard about everywhere. The children are accustomed to seeing soldiers with guns. Bombs and killing can occur anywhere, often seemingly without cause. Many talk about the fear that goes along with this and that they do not feel safe. People can get shot or bombed no matter if the victims are good or bad people. There is no escape from the war and children essentially live with PTSD (post-traumatic shock disorder). Anger, resentment, animosity, and isolation were typical mentions by the children. Much of the hatred is directed at the soldiers, though animosity is projected at the opposite side as well. Many of the children have not even had contact with other children of the opposite side, due to the strict isolation of the Palestinians and Israelis. It sounded like Israelis had more freedom to move about and that there were many more restrictions for the Palestinians as to where they could go. To go to school (or anywhere), these children often had to wake up extremely early so that they could wait in line for hours just to get through a checkpoint. Soldiers had all the control as to how long they let people wait, no matter if the civilians were ill or elderly. Typically, even though children got up very early for school, they were still late. Curfews were imposed on Palestinians, as well, causing people to have to stay in there houses, and children to forgo school for those days, impeding their education and their freedom. If they went out, they could be shot. It is no wonder that there is much resentment and animosity. A final common theme was the wish for peace. Although there were strong feelings toward from one side to the other, most children did not necessarily wish harm to the other side’s civilians, nor did they want this war to continue. The freedom of each side has been greatly hindered by this conflict and the children would like to see an end to the oppression and violence so that they can live normal lives. So, how do we teach our students over here in North America (the author is actually Canadian) about the raging war between cultures occurring in Palestine and Israel? This book can serve as means for this. Teachers can use this book with 6th graders and up to guide them through an understanding of this ongoing conflict through the eyes of other children. This is an important element to the book. Often books and the news tell the information in terms of grown-ups and a third person view. This book allows children to learn that it is not just adults that are affected, but children as well. This makes the information much more accessible. There are also times where they can see that despite all of the seriousness of these experiences, children are still children, which our students here can relate to. For example when two 8 year olds were interviewed, they each said some things that made me chuckle. First was Danielle’s statement on page 41, when she mentions what she would wish for: “My three wishes? I have four: to have more wishes, to be a queen, to get whatever I want when I want it, and to see some TV stars for real.” I loved this because this exactly how a child her age might respond to that question here! Likewise, her friend, Gili, shows the contrast of an eight-year-old’s capacity to make a profound statement in one part and then make a very kid-like statement in the next. She talks about how a guard from her school had been killed (not when he was at the school). “Guards are supposed to protect us, but he couldn’t protect himself. If a bomb can kill a guard, it can also kill me or my family.” After this she continues an earlier discussion of how much she loves horses. “I keep asking my mother if I could keep one in my bedroom, and she always says no!” Students can compare this highly unrealistic request her earlier statement, to see how children living in the conditions there differ yet are similar to their own situations here. This could be especially poignant if the students live in an area threatened by gang violence. This book would be a wonderful resource for a 6th grade and higher classroom or school library. My only criticism for the book is that the language seems a bit stinted. I realized that this is due to a lack of transition words connecting the sentences. I am not sure if this is because of the nature of the languages spoken by the children, or if it is simply the style of the author. I was also curious as to whether or not these children’s words were translated by an interpreter or the author, herself. It does not say. Nor does it say if these stories were prompted by questions and pieced together into one cohesive piece of writing, or if this is how the child spoke—in one solid, uninterrupted story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mia Westfere

    It's not a hard book to read because of the words, but because of the way it makes you wonder. Realizing that your childhood and theirs could have been just as sweet and simple if it weren't for the conflict. There are some incredibly wise children here, some that I wish would talk some sense into their people... but, like most things, it's not that easy. It's comforting to know that some of them will be shaping their countries futures, and frightening to think some of their prejudices will grow It's not a hard book to read because of the words, but because of the way it makes you wonder. Realizing that your childhood and theirs could have been just as sweet and simple if it weren't for the conflict. There are some incredibly wise children here, some that I wish would talk some sense into their people... but, like most things, it's not that easy. It's comforting to know that some of them will be shaping their countries futures, and frightening to think some of their prejudices will grow into violences yet to come. I hope the best of them stick to their ideals and don't allow themselves to become more narrow minded as they get older.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was actually a re read. Thanks, Sarah! It's a difficult realization of the horrors children on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict endure on a regular basis. While we flip out of our kids go near anything that might contain broken glass for example, these children regularly walk through blown up tanks, buildings and cars just to get to school. There are children filled with hatred and those with hope. This was actually a re read. Thanks, Sarah! It's a difficult realization of the horrors children on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict endure on a regular basis. While we flip out of our kids go near anything that might contain broken glass for example, these children regularly walk through blown up tanks, buildings and cars just to get to school. There are children filled with hatred and those with hope.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    Still entirely relevant 16 years after it was published.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    One of the most enlightening books I have ever read. With out hammering anyone over the head with who is wrong and who is right, Ellis lets the stories speak for themselves. My entire outlook on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been completely destroyed. What hurt the most when reading these stories were the ones where the children empathized and sympathised with suicide bombers. For someone so young to understand how someone else's life could sink so low that their only hope was to be rememb One of the most enlightening books I have ever read. With out hammering anyone over the head with who is wrong and who is right, Ellis lets the stories speak for themselves. My entire outlook on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has been completely destroyed. What hurt the most when reading these stories were the ones where the children empathized and sympathised with suicide bombers. For someone so young to understand how someone else's life could sink so low that their only hope was to be remembered as the person who blew up other people, was heartbreaking.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Owen

    This book would make the perfect introduction into the war in the middle east. Billed as a YA/teen book, this still is a powerful book for all reading ages. As the title suggests, it tells the true stories of children on both sides of this struggle. Each child’s letter about themselves and their lives are introduced by the author with facts related to how that particular child lives. The book begins with a general introduction of the history of the war, then is followed by the 429 names of child This book would make the perfect introduction into the war in the middle east. Billed as a YA/teen book, this still is a powerful book for all reading ages. As the title suggests, it tells the true stories of children on both sides of this struggle. Each child’s letter about themselves and their lives are introduced by the author with facts related to how that particular child lives. The book begins with a general introduction of the history of the war, then is followed by the 429 names of children killed between September of 2000 and March of 2003, each name followed by the age of the child. The stories told by the children are at once hopeful and heartbreaking. Most of the Israeli children have never met any Palestinian children and vice versa. On top of that, most of the Palestinian children’s only contacts with Israelis are the soldiers who are a constant and terrifying presence. At the same time, the only Palestinians the Israeli children ever hear about are the suicide bombers who kill not only themselves, but also any innocent people who may be near them. On top of this, there are also the propaganda themes and anti-Arab images that make their way down to the children, as when one eighteen-year-old states "We, the Israelis have been trying, but how much can we give? After all, this is our land. I wish all the Jews in the world would come to Israel, and that all the Palestinians would leave and go live in some other Arab country" (Ellis 76). These stories speak with the poignancy of a child’s eye, asserting that, “setting off bombs in shopping centers… is not a good idea. It makes Palestinians look bad. We should be terrorizing the Israeli soldiers, not the Israeli people” (Ellis 62). Some are sadly already filled with the hate of the other side that comes from living under these situations. And many Palestinian children suffer from post-traumatic stress, something that is almost ignored (Moughrabi). But most wish only for peace, for war to end. One of the last stories is that of Asif, a fifteen-year-old Israeli with a wise point of view. He promises that when he becomes a soldier, he will do everything he can to protect the Palestinian people from the abuse of soldiers. He then says that, “some people use God as an easy way to explain things. They say, ‘This is what God wants us to do,’ like ‘God wants us to fight this war,’ ‘God wants us to kill these people,’ and ‘God is on our side.’ It’s an easy way to say, ’I’m not responsible for what I do’” (Ellis 97). Though not a book that I believe teens might choose to read if given an option of others, this would make a great required reading at the beginning of opening up this issue, inviting a rich discussion among a class and could be used with any age, since all ages are included in the children speaking.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    Interest Level: 5th-8th Grade This book chronicles the experiences of many Israeli and Palestinian children of various ages living in various areas in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Each account focuses mainly on what the children do daily, how they view the opposite side (Israel vs. Palestine), and what they wish they could change about their life. The various points of view along with the real-life experiences that each child goes through touch on many subjects and themes, such as death, reli Interest Level: 5th-8th Grade This book chronicles the experiences of many Israeli and Palestinian children of various ages living in various areas in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Each account focuses mainly on what the children do daily, how they view the opposite side (Israel vs. Palestine), and what they wish they could change about their life. The various points of view along with the real-life experiences that each child goes through touch on many subjects and themes, such as death, religion, family, faith, duty, honor as well as others. Each chapter opens with a short description of the historical context that the child is living in, their picture, name and age. What I found profound about this text was how honest each child was about their political and religious point of view. Most children were well aware what they were living through yet also did not want to focus on it. Most of the younger children expressed sentiments that they wanted to meet the other children while older children were much more hostile towards children from the other nation. I watched the PBS film "Promises" a few years ago and that seemed to be the inclination of the children in the documentary as they grew older and participated in army service or experienced loss. (Here is the URL to the film's page: http://www.pbs.org/pov/promises/ ) I think that children that are living through this warzone, especially in the settlements, are experiencing a life that not many others can connect to so this book is a great way to introduce children to other children. This is not a long, detailed text but rather a concise, clear text that covers most of the major parts of the Israel-Palestine conflict. I think that these accounts are authentic and could bridge understandings between students that live in the United States and those that live in areas of political conflict. I only wish that these accounts were longer or that several of the children were serialized so that we could get to know them in more depth. It seems as if many of the accounts are episodic and fit perfectly with the context introduction at the beginning of each chapter. I also wish that there was a clearer way to differentiate between the Israeli children and Palestinian children in the book. I am not sure if this was by design, but it seemed difficult at times to tell which side each child was from, since switching from one point of view to another was also difficult as I went through the book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leane

    “Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak” is a very informative book for young adults as well as adults. I love reading real life memoirs of people who have experienced things that I have never experienced and seen things that I have never seen or heard of in my lifetime. These kinds of books can really touch your heart and make you want to understand what is going on in the world, and I think that is important for people of all ages to understand. I honestly have never read a book “Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak” is a very informative book for young adults as well as adults. I love reading real life memoirs of people who have experienced things that I have never experienced and seen things that I have never seen or heard of in my lifetime. These kinds of books can really touch your heart and make you want to understand what is going on in the world, and I think that is important for people of all ages to understand. I honestly have never read a book about children living in Israel and I’m very glad that I finally did because I now realize that I was just so ignorant. These stories have very similar themes and experiences throughout, and I was glad that author Deborah Ellis shared stories from Israeli and Palestinian children back-to-back so that I could compare their experiences. I was amazed that the mindsets of the children differed so greatly. Some of the children seemed very open minded and willing to meet children from the opposite culture, but others really seemed to dislike the other children, even if they hadn’t met any. Talia, on page 33, says, “It would be good for me to meet some Palestinians. Kids are the same everywhere.” She seems to be more open minded and has hope for peace between the two peoples. Mahmood on page 50 says, “I don’t know any Israeli children. I don’t want to know any. They hate me and I hate them.” The most memorable and shocking part of the book for me was the story of Hakim, a twelve-year-old boy who was shot in the legs fifteen times. He says that he doesn’t want to get to know any Israelis because they are different than him. He says, “I have only one wish. To get well soon so that I can get back to fighting the Israelis.” That quote pretty much speaks for itself; not even a near death experience can change this boy’s mindset about war. It seems to me that Palestinian children have a more difficult time accepting Israeli children or people in general because their situation is more hostile. The stories that the Palestinian children shared seemed more violent and the Israeli soldiers so cruel. However all of these children are growing up in an environment full of hate, and that is going to affect them when they become adults. So is there really any hope of peace in this country in the future?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Holly Lewis

    Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak is a book by Deborah Ellis fulfilling my "world" lit category. It's a book written based off of mostly spontaneous interviews she did with young kids in Palestine and Israel about their lives, their aspirations, and their ideas about the future. There are a lot of characters, as she talks to many children. She talks about the children she meets in a sort of biography, and then writes a short excerpt. Sometimes they are stories from the child's Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak is a book by Deborah Ellis fulfilling my "world" lit category. It's a book written based off of mostly spontaneous interviews she did with young kids in Palestine and Israel about their lives, their aspirations, and their ideas about the future. There are a lot of characters, as she talks to many children. She talks about the children she meets in a sort of biography, and then writes a short excerpt. Sometimes they are stories from the child's life, sometimes they are just quotes from the children taken from the interviews. She talks a lot about religion and how it contributes to some kids' dreams and how others know that their religion affects what their futures are going to contain. Another large focus of the book is how the war in the Middle East shapes their lives at a young age and how they perceive war, having grown up with it so close. I liked the book mostly, but sometimes I found it to be a little slow; it doesn't help that it's a political system, religion, and government very different from ones I am accustomed to, so there's a lot of side-learning involved with reading the text. I find the story hard to get into, as a whole piece anyway, because it's so disjointed and has so many kids' stories melded into one book. It's nicer in shorter pieces or excerpts. Also, it's very historically based and theoretically non-fiction, and that's not something I usually pick up of my own accord. I'd say that children aged 11-14 would probably find this an engaging text, suitable for their reading level. Students interested in politics, the Middle East, current events, or social causes might be drawn to this book, as well as children that enjoy non-fiction. I would recommend this book to any child, girl or boy. Also, I think this book could be a strong teaching tool; America is involved in the Middle East, but the culture and even the war aren't taught that often in our history books. I think that pieces of the story would be enlightening cross subject tools to give children in America a view of how kids are living on the other side of the world.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A moving book of children's thoughts about a troubled area in a troubled time. A moving book of children's thoughts about a troubled area in a troubled time.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    I felt like the interviews in the beginning of the book were a bit trite, but as I read through and discovered more and more variations of experiences and opinions of Palestinian and Israeli children, I appreciated the slow roll towards some of the more intense experiences at the end of the book (that of the boy who'd been shot by Israeli soldiers, the girl whose sister became a suicide bomber, the high schoolers whose friends had been killed in bombings, etc). It did give a sense of how stunted I felt like the interviews in the beginning of the book were a bit trite, but as I read through and discovered more and more variations of experiences and opinions of Palestinian and Israeli children, I appreciated the slow roll towards some of the more intense experiences at the end of the book (that of the boy who'd been shot by Israeli soldiers, the girl whose sister became a suicide bomber, the high schoolers whose friends had been killed in bombings, etc). It did give a sense of how stunted and difficult life must be for Palestinians, and for the complexity of Israelis - particularly Jews - who are fleeing persecution in other areas of the world, and yet recognizing the unfair actions that their own soldiers are committing, and weighing their own choice to join the military or face harsh censure when they grow up. I appreciated the diversity of ages, genders, religions, and opinions that Ellis was able to present here, along with some of the powerful raw emotions, and the glimpses into how these children might act as adults based on their feelings now. Overall, the spectrum of opinions was encouraging: it was good to see that many of the children aren't completely polarized, though it is scary to see that some of them are (particularly at young ages). In terms of the writing, I did feel at times the the narratives themselves were a bit scattered and unorganized, like Ellis had great quotes from the interviews but didn't quite know how to fit them together, and I also noticed that the prose seemed unnaturally simple. This could be a translation issue, but I feel like this might just be Ellis' style from another recent read by her. This simplicity works nicely for the younger kids, but for the teens, it felt like it hampered their expression and unnecessarily reduced their feelings into broader, less potent terms. I could easily see using this whole book or even just selecting chapters from it to compliment a multi-faceted study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  19. 5 out of 5

    529_Quincy Owens

    Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak was written by Deborah Ellis. In the book Palestinian and Israeli children take turns sharing their own accounts and perspectives on the war. Interestingly the chaotic war is explained pretty well by the sum of the children’s stories. Gul age 12 for instance is about to become a man according to Jewish law. He has mixed emotions about the event because it also means he will have to join the army. Currently, he holds no ill will against the Pale Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak was written by Deborah Ellis. In the book Palestinian and Israeli children take turns sharing their own accounts and perspectives on the war. Interestingly the chaotic war is explained pretty well by the sum of the children’s stories. Gul age 12 for instance is about to become a man according to Jewish law. He has mixed emotions about the event because it also means he will have to join the army. Currently, he holds no ill will against the Palestinians but fears this will change once he joins the army. Hassan a Palestinian child age 18 has been left without the use of his legs due to fear. He describes common encounters with soldiers which result in the destruction of the area. I believe a lot of people have a tendency to look for some higher purpose for the events taking place when it is simply a power struggle. The faces and the voices of the individuals trying to secure or retain power, I’m sure have changed many times over the last few decades, but essentially it is still about power. Both groups wish to have the power to live their lives as they see fit and the only thing in their way is the other side. I really do hope this conflict is resolved soon because it almost seems like they are on the verge of fighting each other, “because that’s just how it is.” As a teacher I do not think I would allow immature students to read this book. Many young readers have trouble identifying bias. A young child is often viewed in our society as “innocent.” Students reading these children’s accounts would accept many of the horrifying events described without prudent appraisal of the text and source. This book should be read by anyone age 16+. The conflicts shaping these children’s lives can only be addressed after we as a people (world) begin discussing these issues together. The true value of this book is the clear identification of the stakeholders with the most to lose in both of these nations.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn Chen

    APA Citation: Ellis, Deborah. (2004) Three wishes :Palestinian and Israeli children speak Toronto : Groundwood Books, Reader Interest/Level: 7-9 Summary: Deborah Ellis conducts an anthropological study, interviewing children of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli and Palestinian adolescents tell their story in their own words. Some stories seem refreshingly ordinary and others are heart-throbbing and difficult to read. They have wishes for their future - whether it is to see their family agai APA Citation: Ellis, Deborah. (2004) Three wishes :Palestinian and Israeli children speak Toronto : Groundwood Books, Reader Interest/Level: 7-9 Summary: Deborah Ellis conducts an anthropological study, interviewing children of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israeli and Palestinian adolescents tell their story in their own words. Some stories seem refreshingly ordinary and others are heart-throbbing and difficult to read. They have wishes for their future - whether it is to see their family again, for peace, for violence to stop. Reflection: This is my favorite read thus far in RLL-528. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read it. If it weren't for this multicultural class, I can't see myself even being interested in reading middle-eastern literature - not because I don't respect the culture, but because I was never exposed to it. Even though it is such a fast read, I actually read it twice, because I knew I only skimmed the surface the first time around. Without taking sides, Ellis presents a portrait of children victimized by this seemingly endless struggle. They are just like young readers everyone - some don't like spinach, some quarrel with their siblings, and yet their experiences are far more difficult and dangerous than many of us face. This book ought to be on the required reading list. In the US, we tend to be pro-Israeli, and I don't want to see a new generation of students rise with sterotypes against the Palestinian/Arab children. We take sympathy on the Jewish community because of what they went through during the Holocaust, and I think it's important to be equally compassionate of both cultures. Ellis' book provides such a blank slate for classroom discussions, and I believe teachers would find this book rewarding to teach from.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ch_jank-caporale

    Deborah Ellis captures what life is like today in Gaza, the West Bank, and in Jerusalem, through the first person accounts of children- both Palestinians and Israelis. All the children express fear of the constant state of danger they're in, and talk about how the choices of other people have affected their lives. What is surprising, and sad, is how little they know of one another: "My teacher says that two years ago there were a lot of Palestinian students in Israel. She says it was good when J Deborah Ellis captures what life is like today in Gaza, the West Bank, and in Jerusalem, through the first person accounts of children- both Palestinians and Israelis. All the children express fear of the constant state of danger they're in, and talk about how the choices of other people have affected their lives. What is surprising, and sad, is how little they know of one another: "My teacher says that two years ago there were a lot of Palestinian students in Israel. She says it was good when Jews and Palestinians could meet and get to know each other a bit, so they wouldn't be afraid of each other. But they don't come into Israeli territory anymore...The Jewish people will think they are terrorists, and their own people will think they are traitors. So they stay with their people, and we stay with ours" (23). Another surprise: "My sister's husband comes from the United States and he said it was hard for him to see so many people walking around with guns. That's a funny thing for him to say, since we learned in school that many more people are killed by guns in the United States than here, and there's a war going on here...I'm used to it already. It would seem strange for me not to see them"(31). If you were working on a unit about the conflict in the Middle East, or a study of Israel, or wanted to discuss looking at both sides of an issue, this book would fit in well. It is written for students, probably from grades 6 and up, and is moving. Deborah Ellis also presents extensive background knowledge about the concerns and the present state of life in this war-torn area. It's excellent!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Heroux

    Some things never seem to change. I would have to disagree with Santana, that those who are unaware of history will be condemned to repeat it. Perhaps those who study history and can apply its lessons to current struggles will not be condemned to repeat past cruelty. I truly believe that the human race has the destructive habit of repeating past cultural and governmental mistakes. Reading Deborah Ellis’ interviews for this book gave me a chilling view of Israeli and Palestinian children’s lives. Some things never seem to change. I would have to disagree with Santana, that those who are unaware of history will be condemned to repeat it. Perhaps those who study history and can apply its lessons to current struggles will not be condemned to repeat past cruelty. I truly believe that the human race has the destructive habit of repeating past cultural and governmental mistakes. Reading Deborah Ellis’ interviews for this book gave me a chilling view of Israeli and Palestinian children’s lives. I thought about walls, both for these children and for others. Some walls are and were literally concrete as the one described being built between the two cultures’ living spaces, or perhaps, a past wall separating the city of Berlin, both with their check-points, searches and denials. There are of course walls that are sensed but not seen. These were represented in Three Wishes by the various ways the people of several cultures were not allowed to interact and know each other. The effects of separation were clearly described by the children. Children who had experienced only separation from people of other cultures often voiced their desire to never know them. Children who had these knowing experiences, voiced regret at their absence. After reading this book and Golem, a story that presented the cruelty against a specific culture over 500 years ago “penned in their walled ghetto, forbidden the use of weapons or the protection of the law” it was clear that the children in Three Wishes were describing the same situation with different players in position of power. I would hardily recommend this book to both adults and middle to high school students.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

    This book was about the sad lives of Palestinian and Israeli children. They wish for things no one would believe. In north america, children would wish for unlimited food and toys but the wishes Palestinian and Israeli children are mind blowing. They wish they could kill themselves and all those horrific things. These children live a sad life hearing from this book and their words. It seems like no one would want to live in those areas with its violence and messed up political issues. The reason This book was about the sad lives of Palestinian and Israeli children. They wish for things no one would believe. In north america, children would wish for unlimited food and toys but the wishes Palestinian and Israeli children are mind blowing. They wish they could kill themselves and all those horrific things. These children live a sad life hearing from this book and their words. It seems like no one would want to live in those areas with its violence and messed up political issues. The reason I picked this book was because my English teacher had informed us that this was a book that has been tried to ban from libraries due to its violence and shocking facts. He told us that a little girl said she wanted to strap a bomb to her chest and kill herself. That counts as almost 99% of why i picked this book. I wanted to know what else these children were thinking about and how easy we have life. And hey, the more someone tells you not to do something, you just want to do it more! The reasons i finished this book was because it was so sad and i always wanted to know what the next children had to say about their life. Its full of sadness, heart crushing quotes from kids. I recommend this book to everyone because it will all teach us a lesson about how easy we have life and how we should be more grateful. But there's this two people i want to smack this book at their face and that is the government of Palestine and Israel because they have to know what the children of their future are thinking. I really enjoyed this book but I don't think it gets enough views and it should. This book is amazing and people have to read this.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beth Hermes

    Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis is a very moving book. I was shocked even before I started the book and read the statistics on civilian causalities in war. I was shocked and appalled that an overwhelming 90% of casualties in war were civilians in 2004, which compares to 15% during World War I. While I was reading I kept having to turn the page back and remind myself that these were not older educated people, but rather they were children no older than high sc Three Wishes Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak by Deborah Ellis is a very moving book. I was shocked even before I started the book and read the statistics on civilian causalities in war. I was shocked and appalled that an overwhelming 90% of casualties in war were civilians in 2004, which compares to 15% during World War I. While I was reading I kept having to turn the page back and remind myself that these were not older educated people, but rather they were children no older than high school. One child in particular that stood out to me was a young 15-year-old boy named Asif. He speaks so bravely and honestly about situations that the American youth are completely ignorant to (which Asif also states) He talks about how he does not want to spend his life in hiding, because even those people die. He also talks about serving his mandatory military time even though he does not believe in it. Even though he is only in 10th grade he is making life decisions as to what he knows will better him for the future. Another point Asif makes is that he explains how any people use God as an excuse to kill people, or participate in the war, but Asif explains that this is just easy way of avoiding the responsibility of their actions. Asif says “if you decide to do something, you have to live with the consequences, not God.” As I read this book I was so sad thinking about all of these children worried about being blown up, or going to jail just because they don’t have the right papers to travel a mile to visit his or her grandmother. It’s just so sad.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine Hawamdeh

    There has been this conflict going on for years, but there is never a solution. This is a political/military/power conflict that is in the heart of the middle east, it is the . I picked this book because, well I'm from the middle east and to me I have always had the curiosity about what goes on in the countries that my ancestors are originally from. This book is letting out the opinions of the innocent kids who are born in conflict. Every "chapter" is a different kid with a different opinion and There has been this conflict going on for years, but there is never a solution. This is a political/military/power conflict that is in the heart of the middle east, it is the . I picked this book because, well I'm from the middle east and to me I have always had the curiosity about what goes on in the countries that my ancestors are originally from. This book is letting out the opinions of the innocent kids who are born in conflict. Every "chapter" is a different kid with a different opinion and different nationality (either Israeli or Palestinian). Each one is unique and surprised me; each child had a story to tell and three wishes to share. The wishes surprised me the most, because here are some kids living in terrible conditions but some have dreams of becoming dancers, artists, doctors, teachers etc.. There was one girl who described her love of dancing in a way I could relate too. It made me realize that even though these kids some living in terrible conditions, have dreams just like any other kid. I enjoyed this book so much, this is one of my favorites by Deborah Ellis. I finished this book because, it was inspiring to hear the stories of others, to compare my lives to theirs and lastly to trench my thirst of curiosity about this conflict that I hear but never understand about. I think my sister should read this book because not only does she share the interest of social justice with me but she as well shares the curiosity of what goes on in the middle east.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Romaniuk

    If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? Your wishes are most likely to be quite different from the wishes of the children interviewed in this book. We hear about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict on the news all the time. Yet, very rarely do we get a glimpse of what life is like for children who are caught in the midst of this conflict. Deborah Ellis interviews children of various ages, trying to get a sense of their dreams, fears, and what they would wish for if they had three wishes. If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? Your wishes are most likely to be quite different from the wishes of the children interviewed in this book. We hear about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict on the news all the time. Yet, very rarely do we get a glimpse of what life is like for children who are caught in the midst of this conflict. Deborah Ellis interviews children of various ages, trying to get a sense of their dreams, fears, and what they would wish for if they had three wishes. What struck me was how the age of the children influenced the way they felt about the conflict. For example, younger children expressed that they did not understand the conflict and wanted everyone to just get along. However, the older children interviewed witnessed the hatred, discrimination, and even had friends/family members killed as a result of the conflict. These experiences cannot be simply forgotten or easily resolved. Thus, the children grow up determined to avenge the injustices they have witnessed. This book is powerful and should be a required reading at some point in late middle school or high school.

  27. 4 out of 5

    sarafem

    Ellis interviews children growing up in wartime Israel and Palestine about their lives and their three wishes for themselves. It is enlightening to read their stories and hear their perspectives, trying to understand them based on the information their families and society have given them. Some children speak of hope and hopelessness in the same breath. Children who have never met anyone outside of their own ethnicity fear difference because their parents tell them to. Children with beautiful sm Ellis interviews children growing up in wartime Israel and Palestine about their lives and their three wishes for themselves. It is enlightening to read their stories and hear their perspectives, trying to understand them based on the information their families and society have given them. Some children speak of hope and hopelessness in the same breath. Children who have never met anyone outside of their own ethnicity fear difference because their parents tell them to. Children with beautiful smiles talk of peace while simultaneously spouting hatred. The rich say the poor don't give them enough, and the poor just want a home and a family but can't have it. Every child knows someone who has been shot or blown up. Children who don't have to speak out against prejudice and hatred and try to do beautiful things in a broken land. It is eyeopening to see what these children live with every day, and while listening to their stories you start to understand how we shape our children with our love and our fears, and how even young people can make a difference.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    Three Wishes is a culturally specific biographical novel that shares the haunting experiences of Israeli and Palestinian children living in a war-torn territory. Author, Deborah Ellis, shares her collection of interviews prefacing each with background information on the region, the history, its controversies or on the people who live there. On page 28 Ellis describes the sense of obligation that Israeli youth have to the state of Israel, “When the state of Israel was first created, many people l Three Wishes is a culturally specific biographical novel that shares the haunting experiences of Israeli and Palestinian children living in a war-torn territory. Author, Deborah Ellis, shares her collection of interviews prefacing each with background information on the region, the history, its controversies or on the people who live there. On page 28 Ellis describes the sense of obligation that Israeli youth have to the state of Israel, “When the state of Israel was first created, many people lived in kibbutzim-collectively run communities. People in a kibbutz held property in common and worked together for the good of the community and for the good of Israel. ” This statement leads into 16 year-old Talia’s interview where she tells us, “You never know when a bomb will explode. It doesn’t help to lead a good life. Well, it’s important to lead a good life, but being good doesn’t protect you from the bombs.” I would recommend this novel as a must-have for any multicultural literature collection. It provided information while offering varying perspectives.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I wasn't sure whether to give this four or five stars. I went with five because though it is a small book (only 111 pages) but is incredibly insightful into the lives of children living in war-torn Israel. I've never seen anything quite like this in its openness and directness. The book is quite up to date, having been published in 2006. Each small chapter gives a general, brief introduction into life in today's Israel, and then a short interview with a child. The kids range from about 8-18 year I wasn't sure whether to give this four or five stars. I went with five because though it is a small book (only 111 pages) but is incredibly insightful into the lives of children living in war-torn Israel. I've never seen anything quite like this in its openness and directness. The book is quite up to date, having been published in 2006. Each small chapter gives a general, brief introduction into life in today's Israel, and then a short interview with a child. The kids range from about 8-18 years in age. Their comments are very insightful, enlightening, and touching. In the US we tend to hear things from a more pro-Israeli (Jewish) perspective, and this book opened my eyes to the hardships these young Palestinian/Arab children are facing through no fault of their own. These stories would be wonderful to share and discuss with children, though I'm not sure I could read them aloud without getting emotional. All of the children are almost painfully honest in sharing their feelings. One can only hope that life gets better for all of them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    The complexity of the endless struggle between Israel and Palestine has continued because of the ideals and hatred being passed down through generations. Yet before those ideas become so inundated into the fabric of each person's moral character, they have the innocence to see the people involved in the situation as individuals and the wish for peace. Ellis crosses into this demographic to uncover that very wish for peace through this novel. As a middle school teacher I feel that the issues these The complexity of the endless struggle between Israel and Palestine has continued because of the ideals and hatred being passed down through generations. Yet before those ideas become so inundated into the fabric of each person's moral character, they have the innocence to see the people involved in the situation as individuals and the wish for peace. Ellis crosses into this demographic to uncover that very wish for peace through this novel. As a middle school teacher I feel that the issues these children deal with are too vicious to even discuss in my classroom, yet it is their daily lives. This seems like such a multi-dimensional book on a literature and social level. What is the author's intent? How does she achieve that? Why does she use interviews and why children? Do we see any parallels to this cultural clash in our own country? How does someone make these children's wishes come true... is that even possible? This book is set for opening up discussion to students on topics that are so often difficult to broach.

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