Canadian Literature Review - We Want You to Know

Reviewed by: Gisèle M. Baxter

In examining children's/"young adult" fiction treating social problems, I often ask myself, who reads this? People actually experiencing the problems, or people viewing them from the outside? Recently, in reviewing the Tamakis' superb graphic novel Skim, I observed that reading it as an adult and knowing that many growing pains do end must be quite different from reading it as an anguished teen in the midst of their anguish. Two recent collections of anecdotes address significant problems many children and teens face in growing up, from the point of view of people who are with few exceptions still very young, their memories still raw.

Deborah Ellis is renowned as an author of fiction and non-fiction examining the lives of young people in a variety of global settings, promoting a global awareness of the issues they face. We Want You to Know compiles a series of prose passages derived from open-ended interviews with a number of young people in southern Ontario who are affected by bullying, mostly as victims but in some cases as perpetrators. Several are in their teens, others are around ten years old. Their stories are followed by open-ended questions aimed at readers, and are interspersed with sticky-note style boxes offering concise thoughts on bullying by children and teens around the world. 


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