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One Peace: True Stories

Young activists' stories show that peace is more than the absence of war

By Kylie Taggart

One Peace: True Stories
of Young Activists
By Janet Wilson
(Orca Book Publishers) $19.95

The inside front cover of One Peace is covered in snowflakes: a symbol of small and fragile things coming together to change our world. In the next 44 pages, author Janet Wilson introduces kids who have done things — some big, some little — that have changed our world. The end result is a book that should inspire children to consider what they can do for peace.

Wilson presents a global view of peace activism by profiling children from different countries who have been touched by conflict. She writes about Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old Japanese girl from Hiroshima who in 1955 tried to fold 1,000 origami paper cranes so that, according to legend, her wish for peace would come true. Wilson also writes about Farlis Calle, who in 1996 helped organize an “election” where children in wartorn Columbia could vote for the right to life, family and freedom from abuse.

As the book progresses, the young activists’ stories help the reader understand a concept of peace that’s broader than the absence of war. Stories like that of Canadian Craig Kielburger, who spoke out against child labour, remind readers that peace includes justice.

Colourful pages are packed with photos, children’s drawings and Wilson’s own paintings. Her moving portraits evoke the youth and innocence of the young activists, depicting them with symbols of peace: candles, flowers, animals, even soccer balls. Coloured boxes contain statistics (properly referenced in the endnotes), quotes and facts.

At times, Wilson is vague about when and at what age the children accomplished their actions for peace. But, the tech-savvy nine- to 12-year-olds who will read this book will no doubt use it as a stepping stone to the Internet, where more information is just a click away. Wilson also includes a few websites and book titles for further reading.

Wilson, based in Eden Mills, Ont., is currently working on another book called One Earth, about young activists for the environment, and frequently talks to children about peace. “They seem to be very receptive to the concept that they can make a difference — the timing is right for this series,” Wilson says.

Of course, the time is always right for a book that engages children, especially one that inspires and empowers them to take action for peace.

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