________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 1. . . .September 5, 2014


Our Heroes: How Kids Are Making a Difference.

Janet Wilson.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
ISBN 978-1-927583-41-8.

Subject Headings:
Reformers-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Social action-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-7 / Ages 7-12.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***1/2 /4

Reviewed from Advance Review Copy.



Kyle and his brother Garrett are crazy about soccer…When they were 13 and 15 years old, their family attended a World Cup game in Germany where they felt the passion of the fans. At the game, Garrett and Kyle shared stories with some enthusiastic fans from Angola where soccer was a luxury most families couldn’t afford. Kyle and Garrett realized how fortunate they were to have grown up with good fields, equipment, and organized teams with matching uniforms. They felt that African children deserved the same. At first they raised money to buy uniforms and soccer balls, but then they realized it was also important to build soccer fields. Their efforts were so successful, that they started FUNDaFIELD…


This collection of stories features young people aged 5-16 from around the world who have taken it upon themselves to help other children (and animals) they feel deserve to be treated with kindness and compassion. Their projects include fundraising for food, raising awareness of the need for tolerance and safety, and helping to provide a chance to play or a chance to learn. As an introduction, author Janet Wilson relates an African tale, “The Ubuntu Story”; it serves as the inspiration for each child’s actions. The message, “How can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?” speaks of the compassion and empathy which these children have taken to heart and beyond. Ten heroes’ stories are each presented with generous quotes in an account of how they found the cause they wanted to support, and what they’ve accomplished. They are followed by another 22 anecdotes that describe, in each child’s own words, one small act of sharing and caring that has made a difference for many, e.g. developing a low-cost lighting system to save endangered predators from being killed by farmers, creating puzzles as a calming tool for Alzheimer’s patients, writing inspiring lyrics to help kids make healthy food and exercise choices. Additional information is provided on the last page in the form of websites for the child activists profiled, or for the organizations they’ve founded.

internal art     Wilson’s book has a clean, attractive design with a portrait and photos that readers can trust – they show the kids at work, on the spot, giving hope, making headlines. Several books have recently been published on this same topic, and stories of young activists are frequently in the news, but the idea of celebrating these young people for their concern cannot be overdone. Kids today have so many opportunities to see firsthand how their peers live in other lands – through personal travel, as well as media presentations -- all of which inspires their initiatives to take direct action. These are future leaders with big dreams for the world they will inherit. The successes they are experiencing with small acts such as letter writing, public speaking, or fund-raising are only the beginning. They often lead to much bigger things, sometimes a career choice. It’s amazing to read about the variety of foundations and organizations the kids, themselves, have established. Their ideas will inspire others, of course.

      Our Heroes is a slim volume, part of a series about child activism. The Table of Contents has been omitted in favour of a line from an African Proverb: “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t slept in a closed room with a mosquito.” Before even beginning to read the true stories here, the reader must stop and think of the power of small positive acts. The stage is perfectly set to expand on that thinking once the first page is turned. Our Heroes will be an excellent choice for discussions among young people anxious to right some wrongs.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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