This spare and focused children’s picture book tackles the issue of child labor in a way that children will immediately understand. Looking at one object at a time, a child first says how much they like it, then the child responsible for making or gathering that object states that they don’t like it. So one child likes shoes, another doesn’t like shoes. One child likes music, another who plays on the street doesn’t like music. One child likes phones, another doesn’t like phones as they take them apart. The book ends with a heart-wrenching combination where one child likes playing and the other asks “What is playing?”
The book never loses sight of its purpose, pairing wealthy children with those living in poverty and doing child labor is a way to make sure that the message resonates with children and that they learn about their privilege in the world. The book ends with information on poverty and child labor as well as information on the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child and tips on how children can help.
The illustrations are stylised photographs that are painted and textured. They look straight into the faces of children from both sides of wealth and poverty, contrasting broad smiles with a deep weariness. Washes of similar colors further pair the contrasting dyads together into one image.
This is a very important picture book that is sure to inspire conversations and a desire to help. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans.