CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 37. . . .May 27, 2016
Part of the “CitizenKid” series, designed to teach children how to be better global citizens, That’s Not Fair! Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms is a bit of a departure from other books in the series in terms of both the story format and the illustrations. In this book, there are six stories, all related to living in a democracy and the importance of the rights and freedoms of all citizens. In order to explain what could be a difficult topic to the target age group, the author invents an imaginary city in which a variety of strange characters, who act as mayor and city councillors, pass laws that must be fair to all of its citizens regardless of race, religion or gender. As they go about their civic duties and try to find some common ground so that everyone is treated respectfully, inevitably a situation arises that is an exception to the rule, and the councillors must go back to the drawing board to rethink their decisions. Each of the fictional stories focuses on one particular right or freedom, followed by an explanation of the actual freedom as it relates to real-life situations. There are also a few questions for readers to ponder which are sure to spark some interesting classroom or family discussions. A double-page spread at the back of the book provides a little more information about each of the rights and freedoms covered.
Illustrations are bright and extremely colourful, depicting odd (and slightly off-putting) cartoon characters that are not always recognizable as particular animals (the exceptions are Councillor Bug and Councillor Feather). Backgrounds are also very loud and colourful- no white space here- which detracts somewhat from the book’s appeal and serious message, but the backgrounds will probably be appealing to young readers.
The stories, though serious in nature, are infused with a bit of humour, largely due to their quirky characters. In the first story, Council decides that all of the elected officials should dress in exactly the same way- white shirts, dark suits, and no hats- in order to look neat and respectable. But some of the councillors must wear head coverings for religious reasons, and this creates a problem. Through this story, readers will learn about freedom of religion and what that entails. Other topics in the book include the right to privacy (freedom from unreasonable search and seizure), the right to life, liberty and security, freedom of the press, the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination.
Generally, That’s Not Fair! is a good book to introduce rights and freedoms to young children, but it’s not quite on par with other books in the series.
Recommended with Reservations.
Gail Hamilton is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.