Deborah Ellis on her first day of school

To get to kindergarten, I had to walk across a bridge that spanned the Grand River in Paris, Ontario. The footbridge was a rusty old train trestle with a long stretch of corrugated iron for foot traffic. The sides were barred but open — a glance down in any direction led to the sight of the river below.

My parents were with me the first time I crossed it. They were showing me the way to go to school, since this was in the glorious days when kids walked to school by themselves, even at five years old. I screamed the whole way across that first time, only stopping when I reached firm ground on the other side.

Then I turned and looked back at what I had done, skipped back to the middle of the bridge and just stood there for a long while. After that I walked back and forth to school every day. I loved walking across the bridge — feeling it rattle with my footsteps; seeing the river rush by; trying to spot fish and snapping turtles; and enjoying some moments of freedom, when I could think and act and just be.


978-1-55498-120-5Deborah Ellis is the award-winning author of the international bestseller, The Breadwinner Trilogy. Her new book, Looks Like Daylight, is a compelling collection of interviews with North American indigenous children from Iqaluit to Texas. Visit her website.

Watch for back-to-school blog posts from Groundwood authors running from August 15th – September 15th. Everyone at Groundwood hopes that this school year will bring you newfound courage.

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