By Author / Illustrator
Jake Hope, Ruthine Burton, Habiba Nabisubi, Chih-An Chen, Pop-Up Pathways Project
Otter-Barry Books Ltd
All children have the right to life, survival and development; to protection from violence and abuse; to education; to express their opinions and be listened to... These are just some of the children's rights highlighted in this important and much-needed collection of stories and poems by a galaxy of well-known authors and poets, including two UK Children's Laureates.
The book is edited by children's book consultant, Jake Hope, and illustrated by Ruthine Burton, Chih-An Chen and Habiba Nabisubi, recent graduates of the Pop-Up Pathways scheme. Stories and poems by Valerie Bloom, Sita Brahmachari, Cathy Cassidy, Maisie Chan, Joseph Coelho, Dom Conlon, AM Dassu, Nicola Davies, Anne Fine, Jamila Gavin, Morris Gleitzman, Jake Hope, Paul Jennings, Elizabeth Laird, CG Moore, Jackie Morris, Beverley Naidoo, RR O'Neill, Rashmi Sirdeshpande, Chitra Soundar, Jordan Stephens, Benjamin Zephaniah.
This new anthology, Our Rights, explores the principles enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child through poems and short stories by a diverse and impressive array of contemporary children's authors, thoughtfully illustrated in black and white by Ruthine Burton, Chih-an Chen and Habiba Nabisubi.
The writing and pictures exemplify, in a practical and easily comprehensible way, what the different articles mean and invite the reader to consider why they matter. The collection would work very well in a classroom: the length of the extracts mean that each can easily be read in a single session, with time for discussion of what they mean. It offers an easy way into broaching knotty issues with children. As the introduction so rightly says, 'stories and poems are a powerful way to think about our rights and feel how important they are', so it is good to see a handy volume that puts this into practice.
Appropriately, the book takes a wide perspective, with stories and poems set in different parts of the world featuring children in very different circumstances. Valerie Bloom's The Soldier, for example, deals sensitively but movingly with the plight of child soldiers, while Joseph Coelho's OLA raises questions inspired by artificial intelligence. Enjoy the Sunshine, by Beverley Naidoo explores the problem of child labour in a haunting short poem that spotlights an 11-year-old picking grapes for a supermarket six thousand miles away; A M Dassu's focus is closer to home, unpicking how distressing hostility to the hijab can be for children whose mothers - or who themselves - choose to wear it. Anne Fine uses her story to invite children themselves to consider how the rights themselves might have been formulated.
These examples give just a flavour of a book which is diverse in every sense. Buying and sharing a copy of it will help to increase awareness of the rights of children and encourage all its readers to resolve conflicts through words and dialogue.
240 pages / Reviewed by Louisa Farrow, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 7+