CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 32. . . .April 20, 2018
You Are Mighty: A Guide to Changing the World.
Caroline Paul. Illustrated by Lauren Tamaki.
New York, NY: Bloomsbury (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), May, 2018.
113 pp., hardcover, $23.99.
Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
Review by Wendy Phillips.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
You are on a quest to change the world. And there is no better time to do it than NOW. You may be angry about an injustice. You may be scared about a situation you’ve just heard about. You may be excited to support a cause you believe in. All these feelings are normal. What’s more, these feelings are powerful. (From the “Introduction”.)
In an era of dark and sometimes frightening international politics, Caroline Paul’s guide to making the world a better place shines a light of optimism. Lighthearted and practical, You Are Mighty demonstrates how kids can make a difference and feel good by acting on their beliefs.
Illustrated with whimsical drawings by Lauren Tamaki, the book is accessible for middle grade kids, an age when passions about politics, the environment, animal rights and social justice run hot. It gives tips on everything from making a protest sign (“Be catchy! It’s fine to rhyme”) to staging a sit-in (“If you are a kid of color, you must consider sit-ins a perilous action.”) The book alternates advice and practical instruction with inspirational stories of kids around the world, who, with imagination and determination, have made big changes. From the child in India who created a water purification process using discarded corn cobs, to Malala Yousafzai’s almost fatal advocacy for girls’ education in Pakistan, real kids provide vision, inspiration and practical guidance.
Though the book’s examples clearly focus on liberal progressive social values, the author never proselytizes; instead, she focuses on practical skills and step-by-step instructions for DIY political expression. Far from dwelling on the divisive anger in which the US seems immersed, Paul helps kids see that they have the power to change the world with their vision of a better one – and a little practical advice from those who have gone before.
Though the book is written for American students (it includes instructions on how to write letters to Congress and many examples of American kids taking political action on decidedly American issues), there are many practical techniques that are applicable to Canadian and international audiences. Bright and optimistic in writing style and echoing Quentin Blake’s quirky illustration style, it is readable, entertaining and inspiring.
As high school students throughout the US march on institutions to demand government act on gun violence, books like You Are Mighty just might keep the vision of positive change alive in a younger generation.
Wendy Phillips is a teacher-librarian in Richmond, B.C. and the author of the Governor General's award winning young adult novel, Fishtailing.
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