________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 8 . . . . December 5, 2008

cover Yeny and the Children for Peace. (A Kids’ Power Book).

Michelle Mulder.
Toronto, ON: Second Story Press, 2008.
118 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-1-897187-45-6.

Subject Headings:
Movimiento de los niños por la paz (Colombia)-Juvenile fiction.
Children and peace-Colombia-Juvenile fiction.
Peace movements-Colombia-Juvenile fiction.
Children and violence-Colombia-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***½ /4


[Yeny said]“Many people have tried to stop the fighting, but it’s impossible. The grupos come along and do whatever they want. My family never bothered anyone, but suddenly someone decided they wanted our land, so they took it.”

“But that’s what I mean,” Beto said. “It’s not fair, but we’re not doing anything to stop it.”

Juan still looked as doubtful as Yeny felt. She did want to see what hundreds of children in one place looked like, though. “Are you going, Juan?” she asked. She’d never figure out how to get to the soccer field on her own. She missed the familiar mountain paths around her village. She never got lost there.

Inspired by a children’s peace movement, this book is a must-read for young people everywhere. Using fictional characters in a very real setting, the author presents a convincing account of the first national vote for peace, organized and held by children in 1996 throughout Colombia. The clear message that emerges from the kids’ determination and courage is one of empowerment in a united front against violence in their society.

     The story is centered on Yeny whose family has been forced from their mountain village home by ‘grupos armados,’ a situation rampant in Colombia. Life with relatives in the city is different. Yeny craves friends and is soon caught up in the excitement of a peace carnival which leads to the movement to hold a vote for peace. Overcoming the reluctance of adults who fear for their children’s safety is Yeny’s first goal. Through the tug-of-war between fear and the desire for chance and a more secure future, the children’s stance brings hope to a troubled land.

     Yeny and the Children for Peace is highly readable in style, authentic in detail and tough to put down. The fiction-based-on-fact approach, which uses a lively young character to whom preteens will easily relate, is a perfect way to engage interest and initiate discussion. The nonfiction-style cover may present a challenge for librarians in terms of where to shelve this book, as it deserves to be included in curriculum areas of global communities and human rights. It includes photos from UNICEF, which has supported the Children’s Movement for Peace since 1996.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson, a former teacher-librarian, is a freelance writer who lives in BC.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364
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