Friday, October 7, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on October 6, 2011 and was written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

Lessons from a Street Kid, by Craig Kielburger, 36 pages.
When Craig Kielburger was twelve years old, he was horrified to read a newspaper account about a boy of the same age, Iqbal Masih, who had been killed for speaking out about the deplorable child labour and exploitation conditions in his country, Pakistan. As a child slave, the boy had worked in a carpet factory from the ages of 4 to 9 years, chained to a loom in the factory.
Craig started a group of concerned students, “Free the Children”, to carry on Iqbal’s work. The students held fundraisers to raise money to send to needy children in countries such as India, Kenya, Brazil and Haiti. In time, Craig began to travel to some of these countries. One of his first visits was to Brazil, to meet with some of the thousands of children who live there on the streets without their families.
In Salvador, Brazil, Craig met Jose and his “family” of fellow street kids. They talked, enjoyed playing soccer together, and became friends. When it was time for Craig to leave, he learned an unforgettable lesson in friendship and generosity when Jose, who had so little, presented Craig with his treasured soccer jersey and insisted that Craig accept it.
Today, the red and black soccer jersey still hangs in Craig’s office at the Free the Children as Craig continues his work of helping children in developing countries across the world. 
Free the Children is now the world’s largest network of youth helping other children to escape exploitation, slavery and poverty, so that they can attend school. Free the Children works in 45 countries.
The colourfully-illustrated story of Craig and Jose is easy to read, thought-provoking, and immensely inspiring. 
** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.
No Ordinary Day, by Deborah Ellis, 155 pages.
Like Jose and his street friends, 12-year-old Valli, who lives in India, does not attend school. Though she longs to go to school and learn, her family has no money to spare for school fees. Instead, Valli works. All day – and every day – she picks up pieces of coal, left behind by workers at the coal mine.
When Valli discovers that the people with whom she lives aren’t her real family after all, she decides to leave the coal town. After hitching a ride to Kolkata, she lives on the streets. Valli soon learns to be quite self-sufficient, cadging and “borrowing” the things that she needs, and passing them on to others when she is finished. She is quite proud of her self-sufficiency and independence.
For some time, Valli, who doesn’t own shoes, has noticed that her feet never feel pain or the cold. One day she happens to meet a doctor who tells her why. The nerves in her feet have been destroyed by leprosy, which will worsen unless she is treated for a long time in a hospital. The doctor knows of a special hospital where the treatment will be free.
However, Valli must first learn to trust the doctor. She must admit that she isn’t as self-sufficient as she would like to be, that it is okay to accept help when you truly need it… and that there is no shame in having a disease such as leprosy.
Author Deborah Ellis, from Simcoe, Ontario, has won numerous Canadian awards for her stories of children around the world and the dangers and conditions under which they live. She is best known for her Breadwinner trilogy of stories about children living under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years.

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