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Children's Fiction Death & Dying

Our Stories, Our Songs

African Children Talk about AIDS

by (author) Deborah Ellis

Fitzhenry and Whiteside
Initial publish date
Aug 2005
Death & Dying, Black Studies (Global)
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
7 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2005
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2005
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Stories of survival.

Songs of hope.

Children you'll never forget.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, there are more than 11.5 million orphans. The AIDS pandemic has claimed their parents, their aunts, and their uncles. What is life like for these children? Who do they care for, and who cares for them?
Come and meet them. They might surprise you.

Royalties from this book will be donated to UNICEF

About the author

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 General’s Award, the Vicky Metcalf Award, Sweden’s Peter Pan Prize, the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and the Children’s Africana Book Award Honor Book for Older Readers.Deborah knew she wanted to be a writer at the age of 11 or 12. Growing up in Paris, Ontario, she loved reading about big cities like New York. In high school, Deborah joined the Peace Movement, playing anti-Nuclear War movies at her school. Since then Deborah has become a peace activist, humanitarian and philanthropist, donating almost all of the royalties from her books to communities in need in Asia and Africa. Heavily involved with Women for Women in Afghanistan, Deborah has helped build women’s centers and schools, giving children education and finding work for women.In 2006, Deborah was named to the Order of Ontario. She now lives in Simcoe, Ontario.

Deborah Ellis' profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The authentic details speak of loss, fear, and grief; incredible kindness; and courage, as well as hope for the future ('I would wear clean clothes every day and be paid every week'). The readable design includes informative boxed insets ('How not to catch AIDS,' 'Poverty') and quotes, side-by-side with each child�s immediate experience. Readers older than the target audience will want this, too, for both the basic information and the heartrending stories."
-- Booklist starred review

"This powerful book succeeds remarkably well in its goal of putting a face on unimaginably large numbers, such as the estimated 20 million children who will have been orphaned by AIDS by 2010."
-- Quill & Quire

"The simply written first-person vignettes tell of poverty, life on the streets, loss of parents and dreams, personal infection with HIV, fears and hopes, with sepia-toned photographs of the speakers putting actual faces on an overwhelming tragedy. Despite their difficult, even desperate circumstances, the children speak with dignity, courage, and hope of their daily lives and future plans, several wanting to help effect true change in the world. Sidebars feature facts about AIDS, making this a valuable resource for health and social studies classes. . . This is a call-to-action book which can spur research into practical ways in which U.S. students can make a difference in Africa's AIDS crisis."
-- School Library Journal

"Every entry is laden with insight, potent with devastating unselfconsciousness. . .This collection should be part of every child's adolescence, and to my mind, it's a hands-down winner of the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction."
-- Toronto Star

"Heart-wrenching, resilient and inspiring young voices put faces to the African AIDS pandemic."
-- Today's Parent

"Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS, by Deborah Ellis, is a collection of first-person accounts by young people, ages seven to 17, describing the effect HIV/AIDS has had on their schools, families, lives and futures. This could be a sad or ugly book, but it is not. It is about the power of the human spirit to endure and hope for a better tomorrow."
-- The Review (Niagara Falls)

Other titles by Deborah Ellis