CM . . .
. Volume XVIIII Number 2. . . .September 14, 2012
NOTE: “The Charter for Children” set $64.95 (pbk.), $89.95 (hc.). ISBN 978-1-926776-34-7 (pbk. set), ISBN 978-1-926776-43-9 (hc. set).
Clever, quirky, humorous, informative. It is hard to beat that combination. Then add in the fact that you need this series, and these books go to the top of the “Must Buy” list. (Assuming that you don’t already have a lot of age appropriate material on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.)
The author, Dustin Milligan, is a young lawyer who identified the need for material to teach young children about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I have no idea how good a lawyer he is, but fortunately for all of us, he is a very astute and talented children’s author. As if creating engaging teaching stories on the Charter wasn’t enough of a challenge, Milligan writes the dialogue between the animal characters in rhyming couplets.
The six books in the series are illustrated by three different artists: Meredith Luce, Jasmine Vicente, and Cory Tibbits. Each has a distinct but similar style, using bright colours and cartoon-like animals to add to the storyline.
Each book is set in a different province or territory, and each deals with a different charter right. Eventually, the series will be comprised of 14 books. Each book ends with “Note for Parents and Teachers” which quotes the section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is being focused on in the book. The notes restate the story in a succinct summary to clarify the intent of the story. There are also three higher level thinking questions for children to consider and discuss with their parents and teachers.
Anne of Green Tomatoes: The Right to be Safe and Secure is set in Ontario and explains that individuals have the right to be safe from harm to their body and to their mind caused by government policies or actions, section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Anne and her friends are painted red against their will and get ill and stressed from the paint.
The Case of the Missing Montreal Bagel: The Right to Privacy and Security is set in Quebec and deals with section 8 of the Charter which protects individuals from unreasonable search or seizure. When the miracle bagel of Montreal is stolen, all of the residents, including Justin Beaver and Lucident Bouchard, are stopped and searched at random.
The Golden Hook: The Right to Believe and Have Faith is set in Newfoundland and Labrador. This story deals with freedom of religion, section 2(a). The School-of-Fish Board has to weigh their concerns for school safety with students’ right to their religious practice, including the right to wear a small golden fishing hook. Although small, the hook is very scary to many of the fish students and parents.
A Large Jaw in Moose Jaw: The Right to Participate and Be Included is set in Saskatchewan. It deals with section 15(1), the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination based on mental or physical disability. Moostachio, the organizer of Moose Jaw Idol, comes to realize that treating everyone the same can exclude those with special needs.
The Plight Beneath The Northern Light: The Right to Meet and Form Groups is set in Nunavut and teaches students about the freedoms of assembly and association, sections 2(c) and 2(d). Two bears, Iqsi and Piqan, challenge the mayor’s efforts to stifle the (bear) citizens’ opposition to his plans. Iqsi and Piqan form Greenfleece, an association, and organize a meeting on a giant iceberg.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Lobster: The Right to Speak, Sing, and Laugh is set in New Brunswick. This book tells a story about section 2(b), the freedom of expression. The Lob-Mob forces the lobsterslature to close, preventing discussion and debate. They also prevent lobsters from singing and laughing. In the notes for parents and teachers at the end of the book, Milligan reminds readers that freedom of expression is not an absolute right. Freedom of expression can be limited when the expression in question promotes hatred against an identifiable group (hate speech).
Milligan was called to the bar in 2011, and it is to be hoped that he has a sufficiently successful career to allow him to continue to write children’s books.
These quirky stories in the “The Charter for Children” series will inform, educate and empower children to know and understand their rights. Noteworthy is the fact that the ‘citizens’ in each book overcome the challenges to their rights and freedoms by creative thinking and peaceful means to help others understand their situations. These books counsel students to stand up for their rights by working within the law.
I highly recommend the first six books of this series and look forward to the remaining eight books.
Suzanne Pierson, a retired teacher-librarian, is currently instructing Librarianship courses at Queen’s University in Kingston, ON.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.