CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 9. . . .November 4, 2016
As a Boy.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2016.
24 pp., hardcover, $18.95.
Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
Reviewed from f&g’s.
Plan International, originally called Foster Parents Plan, is an international nonprofit organization established in 1937. It is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families in poor countries. As a Boy, published by Second Storey Press, had been produced as a fundraiser for the agency and as a counterpoint to its ongoing campaign “Because I Am a Girl”.
It begins as a photo essay, with a beautiful double spread of numerous baby faces. It then becomes an earnest plea for equal rights for both boys and girls. Each page shows a boy or a family at work, at play, laughing or in thought. Each page carries a single simple line, such as:
As a boy, I will be told to be a man, to work, to fight, to be brave.
This second sentence, But as I am just a boy, sometimes I will be afraid, accompanies a photograph of a South Sudanese boy of about 10, hefting a wooden rifle almost as long as he is tall.
And a few pages later:
Yet, as a boy, I am also a son and a brother. One day I might even be a father.
I want my mother... my sister... my daughters... all children to be free to choose
what they want to be.
With the last phrase, readers see a crowd of joyous children spilling across a schoolyard in Bangladesh.
The photos are colourful and clear, and I particularly liked the fact that every photo, including each baby portrait, tells readers in what country the picture was taken.
As a Boy, which offers an opportunity to see children and families in a variety of settings and situations, could be used with primary classes discussing world geography or new learners of English. It would also useful as a springboard to conversations on gender roles.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
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