________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 37 . . . . June 2, 2017


A Fair Deal: Shopping for Social Justice. (Orca Footprints).

Kari Jones.
Victoria, BC: Orca, October, 2017.
48 pp., hardcover, pdf & epub, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1043-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1044-0 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1045-7 (epub).

Subject Headings:
Social responsibility of business-Juvenile literature.
Commerce-Social aspects-Juvenile literature.
Social justice-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



Figuring out how to create a fair wage for everyone is one of the first things any fair trade project does. If people are working for low wages in an unsafe factory, or if they are not getting paid well for their crops, then the supply chain they are part of is not fair.

Imagine a farmer in Bolivia who grows cacao beans for chocolate. He wants to sell his beans for a good price so he can provide for his family. Business is tough, though, because he is competing with all the other cacao farmers in the area. Prices are low and not steady. He is not sure he should stay in business. Hmm… doesn't sound great, does it?

After much thought, he decides to get together with the other farmers in the area and start a cooperative. Cooperatives, or co-ops, are small groups of people who all own a business together. When farmers cooperate, they can demand a better price for their crops and have a better income to support their families.

Now more than ever, the world is connected in so many ways. Trade is responsible for one of these major links between people who have products to sell and those wanting to buy. It's natural for children to take for granted the amazing selection of foods, clothing, toys—whatever they might wish for—that they see in stores. A Fair Deal takes aim at that perception by presenting facts about the sources of these commodities, and, in particular, the people behind those sources and how their lives are affected by trade practices.

      After a brief Introduction that highlights how one community in Tanzania began working together to ensure fair trade would benefit everyone, A Fair Deal presents information in four sections: a history of trade from the barter system to today's elaborate supply chains, an explanation of what fair trade means, further detail with examples about how it works, and finally how we might encourage the fair trade movement to grow. A short list of further reading and website resources is included, along with a Glossary of new terms that are italicized in the text. The Index was not yet included in this advanced reading copy.

      The presentation is peppered with specific examples. For instance, we learn about Hugo Ciro who started Level Ground Trading when he moved to Canada, a cooperative to help his friends back home in Colombia market their coffee. Another fair trade project in Pakistan decided to replace child workers in their sports ball factory with adults paid a fair wage. A young girl in Victoria created her own homemade hair and skin creams using fair trade ingredients whenever available. Each example clarifies the facts in straightforward language and makes them easy to interpret. At times, the author invites young readers to participate by encouraging critical thinking, e.g. "… imagine that… all of your hard work is recognized and appreciated…" so that everyone gets some reward, while "kids who do the harder chores get a little bit more… that seems fair, doesn't it?"

      Personal references (labeled, In My Basket) enhance this reader involvement in each section. While discussing effects of the Industrial Revolution on workers, Jones cites her own experience with a smoggy London day, imagining Victorian era air pollution from coal fires, and she offers a personal encounter with child laborers in Guatemala. She shares the optimistic situation of a prosperous coffee cooperative and of skillful cloth and basket weavers. She shows readers how to examine grocery items and their own clothing to determine their origin and to consider replacing some of them with fair trade selections while shopping. In a busy life, perhaps few youngsters take the time to consider this issue, but these descriptions will help to open their eyes to what is possible and preferable once they understand the advantages of a more equitable world.

      A Fair Deal makes generous use of good quality photos, both archival and those supplied by the author. One chart about the production of coffee (Crop to Cup) could use a specific identifier at the top since coffee isn't the usual focus of kids; the word 'coffee' does not appear until the third note in the chart, although the caption at the bottom does mention it. The design is pleasing, uncluttered but with plenty of subsections and enticing subheadings (e.g. Crocodiles Ahead! and Worms for Sale!).

      A Fair Deal is another worthwhile addition to the 'Orca Footprints" series focused on ecological literacy, and it will help youngsters become better and more thoughtful consumers.

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.

Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - June 2, 2017.

CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive