A LITTLE PIECE OF GROUND by Elizabeth Laird (Haymarket Books, 2006; originally published in England by Macmillian UK in 2003). A LITTLE PIECE OF GROUND focuses on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and hopes of easier times ahead through the eyes of a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy in Ramaliah. Plot elements such as Karim’s aspirations, sibling rivalry, and efforts at maintaining friendships transcend the conflict and physical setting. Elizabeth Lair, with assistance from Palestinian author Sonia Nimr, also show Karim’s and his friends’ frustrations and fears as they manage daily life with curfews, unpredictability in access to schools, and challenges in finding a place to play soccer. The strength of family, relationships among various groups of Palestinians, and encounters with Israelis are presented with complexity and in ways that will cause readers to think about the violence in the comflict and the responses of those affected by it. (Middle School)
The Middle East Outreach Council established the Middle East Book Award in 1999 to recognize books for children and young adults that contribute meaning-fully to an understanding of the Middle East. Books are judged on the authenticity of their portrayal of the Middle Eastern subject, as well as on their characterization, plot, and appeal for the inteneded audience. Awards are announced in Novemenber for books published during the period from January of the previous year through September of the current year. For the purposes of this award, “The Middle East” is defined as the Arab World, Iran, Isreal, Turkey, and Afghanistan.