Forest Fighter: The Story of Chico Mendes

Crocodile. Mar. 2022. 48p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781623718565.
Gr 2-6–In this gorgeous summary of the activist’s life, readers learn in short chapters that Chico Mendes was born in 1944, deep in the Amazon rainforest. As a child he witnessed how his family and others were being exploited by the landowners who ran the rubber plantations. After he learned to read and write, Chico began to use his skills to help fight for worker rights. He became a spokesperson for the rubber tappers trade union and eventually gained international attention for his activism and leadership. Chico worked tirelessly to protect the rainforest and safeguard the livelihoods of rubber tappers and other forest people until he was assassinated at the age of 44. The illustrations are mural-like and deceptively simple, with beautiful images of rainforest creatures spread throughout. The interplay of textures and shapes fill the pages with life and vibrancy, and text blocks are placed in open areas for easy readability. The powerful narrative focuses on the direct impact of deforestation on Chico’s community as well as his revolutionary work to enact change through unionization and protest. The text contains a wealth of information on the Amazon rainforest and the environmental impacts of deforestation, including back matter with Amazon facts, a glossary, and index, but no bibliography.
VERDICT This stellar biography of a not-often featured environmental activist is a necessary addition to all biography shelves. A first purchase.

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