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No Safe Place
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Finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award Orphaned and plagued with the grief of losing everyone he loves, fifteen-year-old Abdul has made a long, fraught journey from his...
Finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award Orphaned and plagued with the grief of losing everyone he loves, fifteen-year-old Abdul has made a long, fraught journey from his...
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  • Finalist for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award

    Orphaned and plagued with the grief of losing everyone he loves, fifteen-year-old Abdul has made a long, fraught journey from his war-torn home in Baghdad, only to end up in The Jungle — the squalid, makeshift migrant community in Calais.

    When an altercation at the soup kitchen ends up with him accidently stabbing a policeman, Abdul has to flee, and in desperation he takes a spot in a small boat heading to England. A sudden skirmish leaves the boat stalled in the middle of the Channel, the pilot dead, and four young people remaining — Abdul; Rosalia, a Romani girl who has escaped from the white slave trade; Cheslav, gone AWOL from a Russian military school; and Jonah, the boat pilot's ten-year-old nephew.

    The four of them end up hijacking a yacht and, despite their fear and mistrust, they form a kind of makeshift family. And as the authorities close in on them, they find refuge in an unusual place — a child's secret cave on the English coast.

About the Author-

  • DEBORAH ELLIS is the author of the international bestseller The Breadwinner, which has been published in thirty languages. She has won the Governor General's Award, the Middle East Book Award, the Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Deborah has donated more than $2 million in royalties to organizations such as Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Mental Health Without Borders, the UNHCR and the Children in Crisis fund of IBBY. She lives in Simcoe, Ontario.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    November 22, 2010
    Ellis (the Breadwinner Trilogy) throws readers into the harrowing experience of migrant teens escaping from different horrors in various corners of the world. Fifteen-year-old Abdul leaves war-torn Baghdad after his family is brutally murdered, winding up in a shantytown in Calais, France, four months later with the aim of reaching England and beginning a new life. His only chance is to take a despicable smuggler's boat and become indebted to him. At sea, he meets Rosalia, a Romani girl who ran from a brothel in Germany, and Cheslav, a passionate trumpet player dodging the Siberian military. The trio is forced to work together to survive the treacherous waters and to keep the smuggler's ill nephew alive, but their haunted pasts have hardened them, preventing easy friendships. "There always seemed to be one more thing. Solve one problem, and another one cropped up," Abdul reflects. Flashbacks involving the effects of war and poverty on communities and families drive this fast-paced and heart-wrenching narrative, which deals honestly with countless harsh realities. Ages 14–up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from September 1, 2010

    Gr 9 Up-This novel moves fast and furiously as readers follow the plight of three teen orphans who are attempting to escape from their troubled homelands to England. Rosalia, a Roma girl; Cheslav, a Russian boy; and Abdul, an Iraqi boy are all fleeing the cruelties of their war-torn cultures. The exciting and moving story manages to pull in the threads of our global history in the making-bombings in Baghdad, sex trafficking, and the harsh lives of underage conscripted soldiers. Violence is a big part of the teens' short lives as a result of the injustices in the world around them; it includes beatings and deaths as a result of racism and sexism. The story line revolves around their experiences as they come together in Calais and make the crossing to England. Ellis deftly uses flashbacks to fill in the backstories of each character, reminding readers of how they can never really know where people are coming from emotionally. Her writing is highly accessible, and yet understated. Orphans of the world and victims of human trafficking need all the press they can get, and this book does a great job of introducing the topic and allowing young people to see beyond the headlines of "Another illegal accidentally dies in Chunnel."-Meredith Toumayan, The Governor's Academy, Byfield, MA

    Copyright 2010 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 1, 2010
    Fifteen-year-old Abdul, an Iraqi Kurd, has escaped war-torn Baghdad and traveled for four months across six countries only to hit a dead-end in the Jungle in Calais, a community of migrants trying to survive in squalid shanties with winter coming. When he sneaks onto a smuggler's boat and a skirmish leaves the pilot dead, Abdul and three other young people are left adrift on the English Channel, hoping to get to England. Ellis skillfully intersperses flashbacks with thrilling scenes in Calais and on the Channel to tell the heartbreaking stories of Cheslav, a trumpet-playing Russian who has fled a harsh military school, Rosalia, a feisty Romani girl, who escaped the white slave trade, and Abdul, hoping to get to Liverpool to honor his friend Kalil. The flashbacks add depth and dimension to the story, making the protagonists fully realized characters readers will care about. What the best literature for young readers can be—simple, elegant language crafted to tell a story as full and rich as life itself. Eminently memorable. (Fiction. 12 & up)

    (COPYRIGHT (2010) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2010
    Grades 7-10 Packed with fast, sometimes brutal action, this searing contemporary novel tells of four angry, desperate, refugee kids who meet in Calais after months on the road and help each other enter England in search of a safe home. Abdul, an Iraqi Kurd, was in the car with his mother and little sister when they were killed by gunshots; now he keeps money shoved up his backside to pay smugglers. Rosalia, a fierce Roma teenager, is escaping forced prostitution. Abandoned by his mother, Cheslav is running from a brutal military school in Russia. They all care for little Jonah, an English orphan, who is scared to go home. Flashbacks of each characters personal story are interwoven with the present-tense violence, prejudice, kindness, and community that the young characters find on their journey. Ellis attempts a great deal for one short book, but she makes even the multiple coincidences work, and there is no sentimentality. The kids fight with each other, but they also bond as survivors. The spare narrative celebrates the power of community to overcome the worst.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

  • Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW What the best literature for young readers can be-simple, elegant language crafted to tell a story as full and rich as life itself. Eminently memorable.

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    Groundwood Books Ltd
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