Small Places, Close to Home: A Child’s Declaration of Rights: Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063092587.
Gr 1-5–Inspired by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this lyrical text tells children that they too are included in the human family. Sentences are broken up into brief lines that suggest a poetic reading: “I deserve to live in freedom/ in a just and peaceful place/ and be treated equally and fairly/ no matter what I look like/ how I speak/ dress, or wear my hair/ who I love/ or where I live.” Especially effective are the “And it’s up to me” phrases that emphasize every person’s responsibility to ensure that others’ rights are respected, too. The concept-heavy text, with information about how the original declaration came to be written by a seasoned author, will work well as a teaching tool in older elementary classrooms; a link to the United Nations website at the end will encourage further exploration. Plus, pictures of families picking apples, eating , walking through parks, and shopping for food together will pull younger elementary readers in. Debut illustrator Gardiner uses a muted palette with a flat gouache look and a variety of interesting perspectives well-suited to the material; the artwork is contemporary and gently folk-reminiscent. The wide variety of skin and hair colors, styles of dress, foods, and houses feel truly international.
VERDICT A strong purchase for classroom use that will work well as a read-aloud or the basis for an elementary civics lesson.

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