Cat at the Wall
by Ellis, Deborah






When normal American middle-school student Clare dies and comes back as a cat in the middle of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, she wonders if she should even try to do what she can to help since, after all, she is just a cat.





Deborah Ellis is best known for her Breadwinner books - a series that has been published in 25 languages and earned more than $1 million in royalties to benefit Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan and Street Kids International. She has won the Governor General's Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for a Body of Work. She recently received the Ontario Library Association's President's Award for Exceptional Achievement, and she has been named to the Order of Ontario. She lives in Simcoe, Ontario.





Pretty, smart, manipulative, and spoiled, Clare is a mean girl growing up in Pennsylvania. She meets her match in Ms. Zero, her eighth-grade teacher, who makes her copy Max Ehrmann's poem Desiderata. Then Clare dies and miraculously comes back as a scrawny cat living on the West Bank. One day, feline Clare follows two Israeli soldiers as they slip into a small, empty Palestinian house and discovers a small Arab boy hiding there. The soldiers are worried about the welfare of the child, whose only words are from Desiderata, which he endlessly recites. Clare's revealing story alternates between flashbacks to her embattled year with Ms. Zero and the present escalating crises, as the local people discover the soldiers and surround the house. There are no black and whites here, only ordinary people caught in the tangle of history, misunderstanding, and fear. The self-centered Clare provides an effective entry point for young readers into the murky waters of this tragic conflict. Ellis' intriguing, unusual tale should give readers much to think about-both on the domestic and international fronts. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.





One minute, Clare is a middle school student in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but the next, she is in Bethlehem-"the real one"-and she's a cat. Thus begins Ellis' thought-provoking and extremely accessible exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of a reflective stray cat (with a wry sense of humor) who finds refuge in a one-room house south of Bethlehem in the West Bank. Two Israeli soldiers, one ignorant and the other wiser and more compassionate, have commandeered it as a surveillance post, but the cat soon realizes there's a small Palestinian boy hiding beneath the floorboards and having trouble breathing...and where are his parents? Through suspenseful and compelling prose, the author presents the situation with evenhandedness and emphasizes the importance of context; she trusts that young readers can understand a great deal. Even so, the manner in which this story is told skews young, making the treatment of at least one horrific act of violence feel a little superficial. In some ways, the skillfully integrated mirror narrative, that of Clare the girl approximately a year earlier, is more nuanced. Usually an A student and a master at flying under her teachers' radars while performing small (and large) acts of meanness, when she encounters "Ms. Zero" and accrues 75 detentions (served by copying out the inspirational poem "Desiderata"), everything changes. Quietly moving, full of surprises and, with Clare's colloquial and spirited voice, highly readable. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.






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