Book Review: The Heaven Shop

The Heaven Shop by Deborah Ellis

published by Firzhenry and Whiteside

This book begins as a simple story of Binti Phiri and her family in Malawi where she lives with her father, brother and sister. In fact, the story feels as if its written for younger children, perhaps middle school. However, the AIDS crisis quickly thrusts Binti into an inhuman world where there aren’t even decisions to make, things just happen. Do these actions deserve judgement or forgiveness? How do I know this will never happen to me?

AIDS is a topic students do not like to discuss. Consequently, they will probably only read this book if they have to. Considering the nature of the story, that’s probably good because students will need to discuss this book!


I do my best to ignore the Pitt/Jolie story. I don’t particularly follow the lives of the rich and famous. HOWEVER. . . I’d have to say that these two have done more for Africa than we realize. To know that these two, who could afford to deliver their child anywhere in the world chose to do so in Africa whispers (ok, shouts) to the average American of the level of development in Namimbia. In Namimbia. We were never told they were in Africa, we were told Namimbia. Yes, America, there are countries in Africa! There are elite resorts, educated people and the glimmer of a promise for tomorrow.

PLEASE!! Get those babies reading!!

About First Book
First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. In neighborhoods across the country, First Book Advisory Boards unite leaders from all sectors of the community to provide books to children in literacy programs, shelters for battered children, housing project initiatives, soup kitchens, after-school programs and other community-based efforts reaching children living at or below the poverty line. In the last two years alone, First Book has provided more than 20 million new books to children in need in hundreds of communities nationwide. For more information about First Book, or to make a donation to help children in need, please visit .

Book Offer

The following offer is made by Townsend Press (, the publishers of the very popular Bluford Series. If you visit their website you will find similar offers which stem from their support of building literacy in today’s youth.

If you are working in a poverty-level school, or with a youth service organization such as PAL or Big Brothers Big Sisters, or a juvenile detention facility, a homeless or women’s shelter, or comparable social service organization with limited funding, and you want a free set of Townsend Library and Bluford books, send a request in writing to:

Townsend Press Book Center
1038 Industrial Drive
West Berlin, NJ 08091


For some reason, many who fund education grants do not see school media specialists as teachers. Consequently, many educational opportunities for teachers are not available for us. It doesn’t matter that we teach more students than most teachers how to research, that we provide information to students and staff on ANY given subject or that we select print and non print resources to support every standard in the curriculum! We’re not seen as teachers.Nonetheless!! The following travel grants DO provide opportunities for media specialists to get first hand learning opportunities.

Aramco Educators to Saudi Arabia: for elementary and secondary social studies teachers and media specialists
Toyota International Teacher Program for ALL subjects for teachers in AZ, CA, FL, GA, IL NJ, NM, NY, TX and DC

Maybe I should say Librarian>Teacher