Introducing One More Mountain, the Exciting 5th Installment of the Award-Winning Breadwinner Series

Introducing One More Mountain

The Exciting 5th Installment of the Award-Winning Breadwinner Series

About One More Mountain and The Breadwinner Series

Release date: October 4th, 2022

Readers were first introduced to Parvana’s story through The Breadwinner, the first installment in the book series that has gone on to win numerous awards, and was adapted into a feature length, Oscar nominated animated film

The internationally bestselling books follow young Parvana, a girl growing up in Afghanistan with the same dreams and ambitions as girls everywhere. It is a story of loyalty, survival, families and friendship under extraordinary circumstances spanning the past twenty years in Afghanistan’s history. Parvana’s journey begins during the 1990s, when the Taliban last ruled the country, and this newest installment finds Parvana once again facing the return of the Taliban and the severe restrictions they have brought to the lives of Afghan girls and young women.

Whether you are catching up on Parvana’s story where the last book left off, or discovering The Breadwinner series for the very first time, the release of One More Mountain is a wonderful opportunity to not only enjoy the power of storytelling, but learn more about the experiences and resilience of Afghan girls, and what Canadians can do to show their support.

Make a Difference with your Purchase

All the books in The Breadwinner series have been acclaimed for their sensitive and educational treatment of themes related to ideas of thinking globally and acting locally. They are a beautiful way to introduce young readers to the themes of universal human rights, gender equality and migration.

The entire series has become a staple in many middle school classrooms across Canada, and there are a number of helpful Teacher Resources and Lesson Plans for these books to  enhance  core curriculum learning for Middle School readers in the areas of Social Studies and Language Arts. The contents of the book are particularly well suited to teaching on global citizenship. 

How novels are helping the women of Afghanistan

Article from the Australian Financial Review

For a decade, author Deborah Ellis has used fiction to tell the real stories of those whose lives have been upended by the brutal Taliban regime.

By Deborah Ellis, Nov 2, 2022

Everyone says I have too much intelligence!” That’s what 14-year-old Faranoz said to me 10 years ago in Kabul. We were sitting on the floor of a room with low ceilings, so packed with women there was no walking space between them.

It was a women’s literacy class, held in the home of a woman who was once married to a member of the Taliban. I was in Afghanistan interviewing children for a book about their post-Taliban lives, Kids of Kabul. A wood stove kept the winter chill away as we talked.

Faranoz told me that the early weeks of classes were filled with women crying and talking about their problems, slowly at first, then like a waterfall of storytelling.

“No one ever asks them,” she said. “They are expected to just live their lives and be quiet.”

Even Faranoz was too ashamed in the beginning to shake the teacher’s hand or look her in the eye. Faranoz had never been to school and thought she was not smart.

All of that changed for all of them after just one year of learning.

“We stand up straight and read out the words we have written in loud, clear voices. We laugh more than we cry.”

The Taliban first took power in September of l996. I saw the articles in the Toronto newspapers, got together with some feminist, anti-war friends and did some solidarity fundraising.

I wanted to know more about how women in Afghanistan were managing to live their lives and hold on to their sanity under such a brutal regime. I went to Pakistan and spent some months interviewing women and their families in the Afghan refugee camps.

Many of the women were not thriving. War, rape, hunger, dangerous journeys on foot to escape, grief and untreated illness all conspired to capture the minds of women who otherwise would blossom and contribute.

Others managed to turn their oppression into fire, operating secretly as doctors, teachers and feminist organisers. They knew that at any minute they could be captured and taken to the football stadium where men would execute them on the end of a rope or by throwing rocks at their heads.

I sat with many women and heard about their lives from the Soviet era to the Taliban era. I heard stories of girls masquerading as boys to be able to work outside their homes and support their families. The idea for the children’s novel, Parvana, was born.

The Parvana series has raised around $2 million for women in Afghanistan. Young readers are attracted to Parvana’s courage, I think because we all need courage in our own lives, no matter our circumstances or location.

After the Taliban were kicked out of power, the Afghan people seized every opportunity for liberation and progress and ran with it as far and as fast as they could.

When I was in Kabul 10 years ago, I met young artists, entrepreneurs, scholars and community workers. I went to the stadium that had been used for torture and public executions and watched the Afghan Women’s National Football Team practise their skills.

Nothing was easy for the Afghan people. Poverty, destruction of infrastructure, ongoing violence, rocket attacks and old attitudes about the position of women in society made everything difficult. But people were reaching forward with vision, iron strength and the deep belief that they could make things better.

In August 2021, the Taliban returned to power and two decades of progress came to a halt.

Like countless others, I felt unable to help as I watched the news coverage of the chaos of the Kabul airport as people tried to leave ahead of the Taliban. I thought about the people whose dreams were suddenly snatched away.

As a species, we humans should only make progress, building on our knowledge and learning from our past mistakes. We should only get wiser and kinder and more able to work together to solve problems. But age doesn’t always bring wisdom with individuals and it clearly doesn’t with nations.

I decided to write a fifth instalment in the Parvana series. It was something I knew how to do, and it might help keep Afghanistan in the public eye and raise some money to alleviate a small bit of suffering.

In the book, One More Mountain, the main characters who were children in the first book, Parvana and Shauzia, are now adult women. They have spent their lives building Afghanistan and fighting for those who are vulnerable. The book starts when the Taliban roll back into power. Everything that Parvana and Shauzia have worked for is at risk of being destroyed.

The question I tried to address in this fifth book is: how do we manage when everything we hoped for is taken away?

Just like the fictional characters, Faranoz, the girl in the literacy class, is now an adult.

“I used to think, if only I could read, then I would be happy,” Faranoz told me when she was 14. “But now I just want more.” She thought she might like to be a doctor some day.

Where is she now? Where are her dreams now? Where are her books, where is her school, where are her teachers, where are her choices? Where is her future?

Faranoz and all the others deserve the opportunity to use their good minds without being blocked by brutality, not just for the benefit of Afghanistan, but for the whole world.

Like Faranoz said, “What else can I do with so much intelligence?”

One More Mountain by Deborah Ellis (Allen & Unwin) is published on November 1.

An Interview with Deb Ellis

We were thankful to connect with Deb Ellis and ask her some questions about One More Mountain and The Breadwinner Series. Click and expand the icons below to read her answers!

The Breadwinner series came about after I spent time in the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan, learning from people what their lives were like under the Taliban and during the wars leading up to the first Taliban take-over.  Among those stories, I heard about girls who masqueraded as boys in order to earn money to keep their families fed. I wanted to share that example of courage with kids in this part of the world, and hopefully raise a bit of money at the same time.  Parvana and Shauzia, the main characters, are girls who attended school together and who found themselves pretending to be boys in Taliban-controlled Kabul.  There are now 5 books in the series – The Breadwinner, Parvana’s Journey, Mud City, My Name is Parvana, and One More Mountain.

When the Taliban re-took Afghanistan in August of 2021, I decided to write One More Mountain to try to raise more money for people in Afghanistan and the refugee camps.  One More Mountain takes place in the time around the Taliban returning to power.  Parvana and Shauzia are now adults, and that’s all I’m going to tell you – people will have to buy the book to find out more!

What has changed for Parvana is that she and her colleagues have two decades of learning and hard work and hope behind them.  Now it appears as if all they have worked for is going to be taken away – again.

Most surprising or interesting thing I’ve learned in the process of writing these books – too many to narrow down.  I’ve learned that women can be made of iron, and even when pushed to extreme circumstances, will keep fighting to make the world better.  I’ve learned that education is more valuable than gold.  I’ve learned that we are all more alike than we are different, and that war is a colossal waste of time, energy, resources and lives, and it should be outlawed – or at least is should be illegal for people to make money off of weapons.

I hope readers will see themselves in Parvana and Shauzia, and take some of their courage into their own lives – we can certainly all use more courage!  I hope they will also understand that an injustice somewhere hurts us all, and that we all rise higher when we rise together.

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan has ways that local activities can have a big impact, such as with the learning baskets that are easy to fund-raise for.  Learning from those who have been in Afghanistan or are from there is valuable, as is becoming informed about and engaged with the world.  

About the Author

Deborah Ellis is an  award-winning author, a feminist and a peace activist, with more than thirty books to her credit. She has won the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the 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 has received the Ontario Library Association’s President’s Award for Exceptional Achievement, and has been named to the Order of Canada.