CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 31. . . April 21, 2017
All four books in the “Well Made, Fair Trade” series are winners. The bonus is that they are printed in Canada so I presume they are “Well made, fair trade”. But be careful as you preview the books or you may spend more time than you planned checking out the interesting recommendations – like I did.
The topics covered in this series are relevant to the age of the readers and well beyond. The international nature of the products we use and consume means the books are applicable to many areas of the curriculum, beyond a simple economic focus.
The writing is informative, and the layout of the colourful pictures and text is clear and engaging. “Good buy!” text boxes give examples of specific manufacturers, producers and co-ops that are meeting the standards of “well made and fair trade”. Each book also includes “Reuse, recycle” text boxes that give examples of how products cause pollution and tips for reusing and recycling. “Environment matters” text boxes highlight changes that some companies have made and tips that everyone can use to improve the environment, such as planting bee-friendly flowers in the section on honey.
Case studies outline both good and bad examples of current manufacturing and production practices. The cases are specific and name companies and individuals from around the world. They are designed to help young readers learn what to look for and what to question, and should prompt some very practical critical thinking. “Good” practices include more than a fair salary, often including education opportunities for workers and children, as well as better health and housing opportunities. “Bad” practices will be familiar to any adult who keeps up with current events, but may be news to young readers.
Each book opens with a section explaining what fair trade means to producers and consumers. A world map shows the places involved in fair trade projects that are mentioned in each book. The books follow a standard format for nonfiction with a table of contents, a simple glossary, related websites and an index.
My Bed and Other Home Furniture looks closely at beds and mattresses, armchairs and sofas/couches, plastic furniture, wooden furniture, refrigerators, carpets and rugs. Interestingly, one of the bad news case studies is about a furniture factory in Taylorville, North Carolina, where employees are suffering physical illnesses from the glue used to attach polyurethane foam to chairs, couches and mattresses.
My Chocolate Bar and Other Foods features chocolate, bananas, tea, peanuts, sugar, and honey. Chapters look at where each food originates and how it is turned into the food we eat. A “Reuse, recycle” text box highlights how one company reuses cocoa husks.
My Smartphone and Other Digital Accessories features smartphones, laptops, digital cameras, MP3 players, and iPods, game consoles, tablets and e-readers. Perhaps more than the other books in this series, this book will be outdated quickly. On the plus side, information about the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular economy quoted at the beginning of this review will be relevant for the foreseeable future.
My T-Shirt and Other Clothing talks about cotton T-shirts, denim jeans, flip-flops, angora sweaters, running shoes (referred to as sneakers), and silk. In an “Environment matters” text box, the reader learns about an environmentally friendly flip-flop manufacturer in India.
There is so much to like about the series, “Well Made, Fair Trade”. The good news is that the examples used in each book are current and relevant to young students. The photos and illustrations are excellent. The best value for your money will be from purchasing the paperback versions since the bad news is that the ‘current’ examples and photos will be outdated quickly.
“Well Made, Fair Trade” is an excellent series. Buy it in paperback, and hope for updates.
Suzanne Pierson is a retired teacher-librarian, 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.