Elizabeth Laird is the author of many award-winning children's novels. Kiss the Dust, about the experience of the Kurds, won the UK Children's Book Award. Jake's Tower, Red Sky in the Morning and Secret Friends were all nominated for the Carnegie Medal. She knows the Middle East well, and lived in Lebanon during the war. Her husband has written a history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. She has collaborated with Sonia Nimr, a Palestinian writer and university lecturer who lives with her family in Ramallah, to research and write A Little Piece of Ground.
Gr 6-10-Karim, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, works with two friends to transform an abandoned lot in Ramallah-the "little piece of ground"-into a soccer field and a getaway from the trials of both family and life under occupation. Hopper, a new friend who had until recently lived in a refugee camp and whose older brother is in the custody of the Israelis, and Joni, a Christian boy whose family has always been close to Karim's, represent in some ways the opposite poles that Karim yo-yos between. Hopper is somewhat suspect, simply because he was a refugee. Furthermore, his actions are brash and defiant; he stands up to an Israeli tank, brandishing an eggplant like a grenade and swinging from its gun. The town is put under Israeli curfew, and first Hopper and later Karim are shot at by soldiers and wounded, Karim seriously enough to require hospitalization. Throughout this powerful narrative, the authors remain true to Karim's character and reactions. He is a typical self-centered adolescent who longs to hang out with his friends, go to school, and play sports. His parents and relatives provide some of the necessary background information and commentary about the occupation. At the book's end, Karim is allowed to spend time outside for the first time since his wound, and is reunited with Hopper. The boys attend a celebration and are chillingly greeted as heroes. As notable in its way as James D. Forman's historical novels of the late '60s and '70s, A Little Piece of Ground deserves serious attention and discussion.-Coop Renner, Hillside Elementary, El Paso, TX Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A fine book, and a daring book -- Michael Morpurgo
This book must go down as a brave, serious and successful attempt to reach out and have this story heard -- Michael Rosen * Books For Keeps *
A Little Piece of Ground has the same rights as any other book to be on the shelves of shops and libraries. I also think that by reading books like this, and acknowledging other points of view, it will be easier for both sides to understand each other -- Fourteen year-old reader * Jewish Chronicle *