Cindy: International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8th, provided a perfect excuse to look at the cover-art changes on Deborah Ellis’ The Breadwinner. Eleven-year-old Parvana’s story of life in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is a perfect introduction to women’s rights around the world for young readers. The original cover art features a desert-palette, watercolor image of what appears to be a young Afghan boy. Those familiar with the book know that after Parvana’s father is arrested by the Taliban, she is thrust into the role of the family breadwinner.
Parvana is young enough to be disguised as a boy and to risk going to town to trade and barter for the food since the family now has no male escort. A later paperback cover that I’ve had in my middle-school features a sepia-toned scene of Parvana at the market. My students still gravitate to the original, and although the popularity of the trilogy (The Breadwinner was followed by Parvana’s Journey in 2002 and Mud City in 2003) has never waned, my student’s interest in Malala’s heroic story has given it another boost in circulation.
Last year marked the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of The Breadwinner and all three books received newly redesigned covers similar to the one at lower right. At the website of the publisher, Groundwood, you can read Deborah Ellis’ thoughts about war as well as the writing of the Breadwinner series and her other books.
While researching this post, I learned that Angelie Jolie is the executive producer for an upcoming Cartoon Saloon animated film of The Breadwinner. Jolie is donating her profits to the education of Afghan girls. Ellis herself has donated over $1 million from the more than 2.5 million books sold in the Breadwinner series. The animated film is sure to add to those important charity efforts . . . and perhaps it will lead to yet another eventual cover update.