Author Deborah Ellis – well known for tackling difficult issues in her work – recently participated in an anti-bullying campaign in her community. She conducted interviews with over 35 young children and teens. Their raw, uncensored stories form the crux of this weighty and sobering book. Early on, Ellis states that “we must find a way to show the victims of bullying that they are being heard.” We Want You to Know ensures they are heard, loud and clear.
Each of the book’s five sections begins with a brief commentary by Ellis and concludes by posing several questions to guide and foster thoughtful discussion. (“Where do ideas about what is cool come from?” “What can you do when you’re feeling really angry and no one will listen?”)
Some of the kids offer controversial strategies for dealing with bullying. One girl, for instance, commends her mom for screaming at a bully. Others urge victims to punch back. Rather than being flaws, these points of view will help prompt debate among readers – clearly part of Ellis’s agenda.
The addition of more positive glossary entries (e.g., respect, kindness) and a more thorough list of page references (some are missing) would have enhanced the book’s usefulness. All the same, We Want You to Know is a good reference for educators, social workers, librarians, and concerned individuals working to control this horrible schoolyard phenomenon, as well as youths going through it themselves.
Deborah Ellis is the internationally acclaimed author of more than twenty books for children, including the Breadwinner trilogy; The Heaven Shop; Lunch With Lenin; Children of War: Voices of Iraqi Refugees; and Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS. She has won many national and international awards for her books, including the Governor Generals Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, Swedens Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Childrens Book Award, and the Childrens Africana Book Award Honor Book for Older Readers. In 2006, Deborah was named to the Order of Ontario. She now lives in Simcoe, Ontario. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.