Growing Up Elizabeth May: The Making of an Activist

Orca. May 2021. 136p. pap. $24.95. ISBN 9781459823709.
Gr 4-8–This book about environmentalist and politician Elizabeth May (b. 1954) highlights her activism throughout her life, from her childhood spent with her activist mother, to her high school years raising awareness for environmental causes, to serving as a Green Party member in Canada’s Parliament. The book also offers guidance for young activists through colorful sidebar sections. These contain definitions and historical context, notes from May, and quotes and images of youth involved in environmental activism. While these sections offer useful information, they distract from the main text as they break up the narrative account of May’s life. In a book about a white activist, the authors do briefly acknowledge the important role of Indigenous people in the fight against climate change, as May reflects on the lessons she has learned from the sáne people. A prompt at the end of the book encourages readers to learn what Indigenous territory they live on. Back matter includes a glossary, resources list, and “sparks,” actionable items for young activists such as “use a reusable water bottle.” Throughout the book, the authors highlight both May’s accomplishments and failures, and show her resilience in failure. Following this theme, the final chapter encourages readers to “never give up.” Young people interested in environmental activism will find inspiration in May’s story. However, as part biography and part activism guide, the book sometimes feels disjointed.
VERDICT Consider for purchase where environmental issue books circulate well.

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