Our global leaders came together in 2015 and agreed on 17 global goals to create a better world. It’s Global Citizenship on 14-18 Nov. Here are some books tackling the sustainable development goals
On the day that her uncle takes her to be sold to the highest bidder, eleven-year-old Lu Si-Yan learns what it really means to be born a girl in her culture: to be worth nothing more than a little spilled water. Torn from her family, she is taken to the smog-wrapped tower blocks and factories of the big city. There she is destined to become a servant to a wealthy family, and someday to marry their son. But Lu Si-Yan is not going to spend her life in servitude. Determined to return to her beloved mother and brother, she embarks on an epic journey to escape and find her way home. My review
For eleven-year-old Gopal and his family, life in their rural Indian village is over: We stay, we starve, his baba has warned. So they must flee to the big city of Mumbai in hopes of finding work and a brighter future. Gopal is eager to help support his struggling family until school starts, so when a stranger approaches him with the promise of a factory job, he jumps at the offer.
But Gopal has been deceived. There is no factory but, instead, a small, stuffy sweatshop, where he and five other boys are forced to make beaded frames for no money and little food. The boys are forbidden to talk or even to call one another by their real names. In this atmosphere of distrust and isolation, locked in a rundown building in an unknown part of the city, Gopal despairs of ever seeing his family again.
Then, late one night when Gopal decides to share kahanis, or stories, he realizes that storytelling might be the boys’ key to holding on to their sense of self and their hope for any kind of future. If he can make them feel more like brothers than enemies, their lives will be more bearable in the shop—and they might even find a way to escape. My review
There are two sides to every story.
Alex’s OCD is so severe that it’s difficult for him to even leave his house some days. His classmate Dan is so angry that he lashes out at the easiest target he can find at school: Alex. When their moms arrange for Alex and Dan to spend time together over winter break, it seems like a recipe for certain disaster…until it isn’t. Once forced together, these two sworn enemies discover that there is much more to each other than they ever knew. My review
Budi’s plan is simple…
He’s going to be a star, instead of sweating over each football boot he makes, each stitch he sews, each box he packages. He’s going to play for the greatest team on earth, rather than in the square behind the factory where he works.
But one unlucky kick brings Budi’s world crashing down, because now he owes the Dragon, the most dangerous man in all Jakarta. Soon it isn’t only Budi’s dreams at stake, but his life.
A story about dreaming big, about hope and heroes, and never letting anything stand in your way… My review
Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.
Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution. My review
A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.
William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala—crazy—but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.
Enchanted by the workings of electricity as a boy, William had a goal to study science in Malawi’s top boarding schools. But in 2002, his country was stricken with a famine that left his family’s farm devastated and his parents destitute. Unable to pay the eighty-dollar-a-year tuition for his education, William was forced to drop out and help his family forage for food as thousands across the country starved and died.
Yet William refused to let go of his dreams. With nothing more than a fistful of cornmeal in his stomach, a small pile of once-forgotten science textbooks, and an armory of curiosity and determination, he embarked on a daring plan to bring his family a set of luxuries that only two percent of Malawians could afford and what the West considers a necessity—electricity and running water. Using scrap metal, tractor parts, and bicycle halves, William forged a crude yet operable windmill, an unlikely contraption and small miracle that eventually powered four lights, complete with homemade switches and a circuit breaker made from nails and wire. A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine that loomed with every season.
Soon, news of William’s magetsi a mphepo—his “electric wind”—spread beyond the borders of his home, and the boy who was once called crazy became an inspiration to those around the world.
Here is the remarkable story about human inventiveness and its power to overcome crippling adversity. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind will inspire anyone who doubts the power of one individual’s ability to change his community and better the lives of those around him.
A Magical Tree.
In rural China during the New Year celebrations, Kai receives devastating news. A poor harvest spells disaster unless his mother accepts a job in the city caring for a wealthy family.
Abandoned in his mountainous village, Kai is desperate to bring his mother home. He gives in to superstition and unlocks the secrets of the Great Fire Tree. The Great Fire Tree will grant Kai’s wish—for a terrible price. With the help of his new friend Xinying and his trusted piglet, Kai will make a sacrifice to make his family whole.
Justine Laismith weaves together Chinese mystique and rural charm in an enchanting tale of an antidote that kills and an amulet that curses. Reviews
A charmingly illustrated and educational book, Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more! My review
Day or two later
Freedom is one of the first words I teached myself to write. Down in the Quarters people pray for freedom – they sing ’bout freedom, but to keep Mas’ Henley from knowin’ their true feelings, they call freedom “heaven.” Everybody’s mind is on freedom.
But it is a word that aine never showed me no picture. While fannin’ this afternoon, my eyes fell on “freedom” in a book William was readin’. No wonder I don’t see nothin’. I been spellin’ it F-R-E-D-U-M.
I put the right letters in my head to make sure I remembered their place. F-R-E-E-D-O-M. I just now wrote it. Still no picture.. My review
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities – Cowgirl by G.R. Gemin
Growing up on the embattled Mawr Estate in South Wales, all Gemma sees are burglaries, muggings, sadness and boredom. With a dad in prison and a mum who has given up hope, she, like everyone around her, is holding on to memories of the times when happiness wasn’t so hard to find.
When her search for the scene of a perfect childhood day takes her up into the surrounding hills, Gemma is forced into a meeting with the legendary Cowgirl. Everyone at school knows she’s a weirdo: six foot tall and angry, the only conversations she has are with the twelve cows on her dad’s farm. But with her abrupt arrival in Gemma’s life, everything starts to look different. And with her only friends in mortal danger of the abbatoir, it turns out she and Gemma have a mission on their hands. A gently funny story of a community coming together, this is a tale of happy endings in unexpected places.
From the author of the acclaimed bestseller “Holes, ” winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a new middle-grade novel with universal appeal. Combining horror-movie suspense with the issues of friendship, bullying, and the possibility of ecological disaster, this novel will intrigue, surprise, and inspire readers and compel them to think twice about how they treat others as well as their environment.
“Be careful. Your next step may be your last.”
Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodbridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Wilson challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined.
In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world. My review
The story of a deaf girl’s connection to a whale whose song can’t be heard by his species, and the journey she takes to help him.
From fixing the class computer to repairing old radios, twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius. But she’s the only deaf person in her school, so people often treat her like she’s not very smart. If you’ve ever felt like no one was listening to you, then you know how hard that can be.
When she learns about Blue 55, a real whale who is unable to speak to other whales, Iris understands how he must feel. Then she has an idea: she should invent a way to “sing” to him! But he’s three thousand miles away. How will she play her song for him? My review
Hilarious, touching and thought-provoking, Hoot is a modern classic, now celebrating its fifteenth anniversary. Winner of the Newbery Honor award and a New York Times bestseller, Carl Hiaasen’s first novel celebrates the natural world with his trademark wit and warmth.
Roy Eberhardt never wanted to move to Florida. In his opinion, Disney World is an armpit.
Roy’s family moves around a lot so he’s used to the new-kid drill – he’s also used to bullies like Dana Matherson. And anyway, it’s because of Dana that Roy gets to see the mysterious running boy who runs away from the school bus and who has no books, no backpack and, most bizarrely, no shoes.
Sensing a mystery, Roy starts to trail the mystery runner – a chase that will introduce him to many weird Floridian creatures: potty-trained alligators, cute burrowing owls, a fake-fart champion, a shoeless eco-warrior, a sinister pancake PR man, new friends and some snakes with sparkly tails. As the plot thickens, Roy and his friends realise it’s up to them to save the endangered owls from the evil Mother Paula’s pancake company who are planning to build a new restaurant on their home . . . My review
It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.
Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together. My review
Ever since Lexie’s mum vanished, her world hasn’t stopped spinning. A new home, a new school – even a new family but Lexie never gives up hope that her mum will come back and writes her letters every day to tell her all about her new life.
There’s plenty to tell – the new group of misfits she calls friends, the talent for music she never knew she had and the gorgeous boy with blue eyes and secrets to hide. But her letters remain unanswered and she’s starting to feel more alone than ever.
Lexie’s about to learn that sometimes you need to get lost in order to be found. My review
You will find that some books can easily fit into other categories as well. After all, several of these issues are interlinked. You might have noticed I skipped Goal #12. I could not come up with a book that dealt with Responsible Consumption. Can you suggest any? Leave it in the comments below!