________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 6. . . .November 7, 2008


Hannah's Story.

Juanita Peters (Writer & Director). Annette Clarke (Producer). Kent Martin (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
28 min., 51 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9107 239.

Kindergarten-grade 9 / Ages 5-14.

Review by Helen Norrie.

**** /4



Hannah's Story documents the surprising and inspiring story of Hannah Taylor, the 11-year-old girl who, at the age of five, was so moved by seeing a homeless man foraging for food in a back lane that she started a fund for the homeless. This fund, which has grown into the Ladybug Foundation, has raised over one million dollars for those lacking life's basic needs.


In this NFB film, Hannah is amazingly natural and unaffected, as, indeed she is in person. The documentary shows question and answer sessions between Hannah and children in a school setting where Hannah fields all the questions with confidence and unsophisticated charm. By contrast, we also see her interview with former Prime Minister Paul Martin while he was still in office. The film also introduces us to one of the homeless men who has become a particular friend of Hannah's and who expresses his appreciation for having someone who really cares about him. Near the end of the film, this man is shown working at street-cleaning job and thanking the Foundation for giving him a chance to earn a wage. This seemed a bit contrived to me as many of the homeless whom Hanna seeks to help would never be able to hold down a job.

      Hannah's Story would be a good film to show in elementary classrooms to encourage children to look for opportunities to help others poorer or more in need than themselves. It has a number of good quotes: "If you don't ask the question you will never know the answer"; "We don't just raise money, we raise awareness"; "Share a little of what you have and care about each other always"; "Even if you are little you can make a difference."

      The film ends with the information that Hanna is now involved in working for human rights. It also shows a new emergency center for men, women and children that was constructed with money raised by the Ladybug Foundation and which opened May 1, 2007.

      This is a powerful example of what one young person can do to help change her corner of the world.

Highly Recommended.

Helen Norrie is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB, who writes a monthly column on children's books for the Winnipeg Free Press.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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