Shayna's Shadows

Shayna's Shadows by Paul Philip Brown

Calling people names:

Is it harmless fun?

Or is it a dangerous first step towards bigotry?

Shayna's arrival at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Junior High School begins well until her Jewishness attracts the wrong kind of attention. Gilbert and his friends seem to be lurking everywhere, and it doesn't look as though they'll ever leave her alone.

From Yorkdale Shopping Centre to the underground city beneath Toronto, from SkyDome to the Young People's Theatre, Shayna struggles to find the courage to confront her tormentors before their hurtful prejudices overwhelm her.


North York Post Magazine

Local teacher shows kids how teasing is no laughing matter

Although summer usually means time off for teachers, Paul Brown has used his summers to do other work.

Brown, a teacher in Toronto schools for over 30 years, wrote the young people’s novel Shayna's Shadows over the course of two summers.

The book follows junior high school student Shayna as she faces bullying and religious intolerance at the fictional Pierre Elliott Trudeau Junior High.

“I wanted to write a story to increase tolerance,” says Brown, adding, “Name calling: Is it innocent fun? Intolerance is a continuum.”

Bullying is a subject Brown is familiar with, having seen it first hand in classes and as a guidance counsellor. He felt that a book was a good way to get his message across while at the same time keeping 11 to 15 year olds, the book’s target audience, interested. He hopes it will also give kids on both sides of it a new perspective.

“I hope that bullies will gain an understanding of what it feels like and the effect it has on others,” says Brown. “In terms of the victims, I hope it will help them to see they are not alone and that there are resources available both in and out of school.”

Since writing the book, Brown has found that bullying is not just a North American problem. He plans to include resources to deal with bullying on his website. (

The book has been used as a class novel in some schools in the area. “It is a good read, but above that it has a message,” says Brown about the book. “We have an obligation to respect, understand and celebrate our differences.”

The book is available in some local, independent bookstores, such as Aleph Bet, Batner’s, Israel’s and Negev, as well as on his website.