________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number . . . .February 17, 2017


Making It Right: Building Peace, Settling Conflict.

Marilee Peters.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2016.
134 pp., pbk., hc., html & pdf, $14.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-809-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-810-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-811-1 (html), ISBN 978-1-55451-812-8 (pdf).

Subject Headings:
Restorative justice-Juvenile literature.
Social justice-Juvenile literature.
Criminal justice, Administration of-Juvenile literature.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Kay Weisman.

*** /4



On May 5, 1994, 18-year-old Michael Fay became the first U. S. citizen in more than a century to be caned as punishment for a crime. Michael was living with his mother and stepfather in Singapore, a bustling city-state in Southeast Asia, when he got into trouble with the police. Singapore is famous for being a safe, clean city, and it has very strict laws against vandalism and destruction of public or private property. Singapore even has laws banning chewing gum!

Michael knew about the laws, but he wasn’t thinking about them the night he and his friends ran wild in downtown Singapore, spray-painting parked cars, stealing traffic signs, and slashing car tires. Even when the police came knocking at Michael’s door, asking questions about his part in the vandalism spree, he didn’t realize how serious things were. He soon would.

A few months later, a Singapore judge found Michael guilty of having vandalized two cars with spray paint. For his crime, he was sentenced to four months in jail, a $2,230 USD fine—and six lashes with a bamboo cane.


Peters makes the case for restorative justice, a system that focuses on repairing the harm done by an offense and rehabilitating the offender. She surveys current responses to wrongdoing from around the world (Papua New Guinea, Singapore, England, Belgium, South Africa, Guatemala, and Uganda) and from the beginning of history (Hammurabi’s Code, Greece’s Draconian system, Solon’s reforms, William the Conqueror’s methods, and the retributive system in use today). Peters describes many different crimes—ranging from vandalism to cyber-bullying to abduction to murder—and uses the results of relevant scientific studies to validate many of her points about the wisdom of restoring equilibrium to both the victim and the offender. The author is honest in reporting cases where this type of justice has not worked, but she remains firm in her conviction that restorative justice is generally a better system than the use of fines, corporal punishment, and incarceration often used today. A final personal example from Peters brings readers back to the here and now and serves to bolster the views expressed earlier.

     Jef Thompson’s artwork consists mostly of text-heavy, poster-style illustrations done in heavy black line, accented in one or two colors. They do serve to break up the text (sometimes, unfortunately, mid-sentence) but overall the effect is abrasive. Appended with a glossary and extensive list of sources, Making It Right is a title that will be a valuable resource for teaching units and debate preparation.


Kay Weisman works as a youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library and chairs the Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada’s Information Book Award.

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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