BOOKS

book cover of That's Not Fair!
That's Not Fair! Getting to Know Your Rights and Freedoms
Danielle S. McLaughlin, illustrated by Dharmali Patel. Kids Can Press, 2016. 44 pages, $18.95
**
Reviewed by Mandi Hardy

“Treating everyone the same way isn’t always fair, you know. Sometimes we have to be treated differently to give everyone the same opportunities.” – Councillor Twist

This is a powerful message that should have been central to the writing of That’s Not Fair! a book that explores the value of our rights and freedoms as citizens. Unfortunately, as I read, I found myself thinking, “That’s not fair!” In Our City, the cast of characters, led by Mayor Moe, comes very close to gender parity, but on closer inspection of the text, it becomes evident that male characters speak twice as often as female characters. The book itself does not even pass the Bechdel Test. (For a given work of fiction to pass the test, the work must have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something other than a man.) This could be a teachable moment, but it is not addressed by the author and is therefore unlikely to be used as such.

That’s Not Fair! contains six stories that examine different rights and freedoms through fictional issues taking place in Our City. In each story the City Council tries to make things better, but usually fails miserably. They’d likely have more success if they listened to what Councillor Bug has to say. She recognizes the problems with the laws that council is passing and says, in each story, “That’s not fair!” but every time the same thing happens – “no one was listening to her.” This is perhaps an accurate depiction of real life, a loud, blundering mayor, pushing through decisions regardless of what a single, dissenting, female voice might say, but I don’t think the book does enough to explain why this is so problematic. The only reference to Councillor Bug’s plight comes near the end of the book: “That is why it is so important to think about fairness. After all, it is only when some brave person (or bug) says, “That’s not fair!” that things can begin to change.” Great advice, but it wasn’t what was shown in the book. Councillor Bug spoke up, but her words never had any impact.

I think this book would be appropriate for junior level students and would connect well with the grade five social studies curriculum. It is certainly an excellent resource for exploring male privilege and could be an interesting springboard into class discussions about the different ways that men and women are treated in politics. Not fair, indeed.

Mandi Hardy is a member of the Peel Teacher Local.

MORE BOOKS

Cover of School Days Around the World by Margriet Ruurs and Alice Feagan
Margriet Ruurs and Alice Feagan. Kids Can Press, 2015 40 pages, $19.95
Cover of Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanaine, illustrated by Claudia Davila
Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanaine, illustrated by Claudia Davila. Kids Can Press, 2015 48 pages, $18.95
Cover of Sex is a Funny Word by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth
Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smyth. Triangle Square, 2015 160 pages, $17.29
Cover of The Art of Possible
Edward Keenan, illustrated by Julie McLaughlin. Owlkids Books, 201563 pages, $17.95
Cover of Classroom Routines for Real Learning
Jennifer Harper and Kathryn O’Brien. Pembroke Publishers, 2015128 pages, $24.95
Cover of I Can Dance My Feelings
Hannah Beach. Tournesol Dance, $139.95 (set of six), $24.95 (individual book)
Cover of book A Brush Full of Colour
Katherine Gibson and Margriet RuursPajama Press, 201440 pages, $22.95
Book Cover of Intentional Talk: How to Structure and Lead Productive Mathematical Discussion
Elham Kazemi and Allison Hint. Stenhouse Publishers, 2014, 168 pages, $25.95

Pages