CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 14. . . . December 8, 2017
Hannah Alper is an amazing youth. She began blogging at the age of nine about a topic that she is passionate about: the environment. Soon she caught the attention of Marc and Craig Kielburger, the co-founders of WE (formerly Free the Children). Alper joined the organization and became a WE ambassador and motivational speaker. Momentus is her call to action. She shares her own journey into activism and intersperses her substantial and substantive words of experience with stories developed from her interviews with 19 individuals or family groupings that inspire her. Many of the subjects are youthful change makers. Illustrative content includes colour photographs of the people interviewed plus some shots with Alper and a few screen shots from social media posts. A small number of sketches and illustrations augment the text in appropriate ways. Almost every page includes some form of visual material distinct from the main body of the text. Often this takes the form of a quotation, a call to action or a motivational phrase that is reproduced in large green and blue lettering or by using a large font in several colours that repeats key points made in the body of the text. This is an effective way to reinforce points in a visual way.
There is some repetition, but, overall, Alper delivers a readable and practical guide to social activism. She has a simple formula: find an issue that you are passionate about, discover your gift, such as writing or posting on specific social media, and become an agent of change. Also, it is important to find people that inspire you. Alper is candid about some challenges that she and others may encounter, such as unsupportive school mates and time management issues that she faces when juggling school work with her speaking and other engagements.
Chapters begin with the name of the person interviewed and the fields for which they are known. Two examples are: Severn Cullis Suzuki: Environmental Activist, Speaker, TV Host, Author, and Michael ďPinballĒ Clemons: Philanthropist, Motivational Speaker, Giver. With the exception of one chapter featuring the actual transcript of an interview with Malalya Yousafzai, all of the interviews are written in a journalistic style that should appeal to the intended readership. Following the brief interviews, Alper provides a section called Hannahís Reflection in which she elaborates on a topic, such as her use of social media or provides calls to action, easily identified by a megaphone icon that precedes the advice. A call to action can consist of one thing, or it can include a lengthy list, such as the 15 ways that someone can use a gift or passion for change.
The brief biographies are not equally inspiring but succeed in introducing readers to young change makers, including Vivienne Harr and Maya Penn, successful entrepreneurs like Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS) and celebrities from sport (Clemons), video (Lilly Singh) and film (Lilly Collins) that all strive to change the world for the better, each in a way they can. Alper also includes stories of an LGBTQ rights activist family, and Spencer West, a motivational speaker whose main issue is poverty but who also shines through for his determination to accomplish things (with help from friends) that few would imagine someone with double leg amputation could achieve.
The publisher identifies this work as geared to grades 3-8. I think Momentus: Small Acts, Big Change will also appeal to readers in high schools. Recommended for all intermediate and high school libraries.
Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University.