Author(s): Deborah Ellis
Even though Valli spends her days picking coal and fighting with her cousins, life in the coal town of Jharia, India, is the only life she knows. The only sight that fills her with terror is the monsters who live on the other side of the train tracks - the lepers. When Valli discovers that that her 'aunt' is a stranger who was paid money to take Valli off her own family's hands, she leaves Jharia and begins a series of adventures that takes her to Kolkata, the city of the gods. Valli finds that she really doesn't need much to live and is very resourceful. But a chance encounter with a doctor reveals that she has leprosy. Unable to bear the thought that she is one of the monsters she has always feared, Valli rejects help and begins an uncertain life on the street.
Deborah Ellis has travelled the world to meet with and hear the stories of children affected by poverty, war, racism and illness. Her fiction and non-fiction books give us a glimpse into the lives of children from Afghanistan (The Parvana Trilogy), Bolivia (Diego! Run; Diego's Pride), the Middle East (Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak) and Southern Africa (The Heaven Shop). Deborah's recent book, Off to War: Soldiers' Children Speak is a collection of interviews with children of Canadian and American soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her companion book Children of War: Iraqi Children Speak interviews Iraqi children about how the war and displacement have shaped their lives.