cover image I Have the Right to Be a Child

I Have the Right to Be a Child

Alain Serres, trans. from the French by Helen Mixter, illus. by Aurélia Fronty. Groundwood (PGW, dist.), $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-55498-149-6

The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child is written in dense legalese, making it hard for the group it protects to understand it. Serres (And Picasso Painted Guernica) reframes the document’s articles in the voice of a child: “I have the right to go to school and to refuse to go to work. I’ll choose a job when I’ve learned everything I want to know!” Fronty (Animals of the Bible for Young Children) paints naïf, folk art–like figures in a palette of jewel colors, suggestive of a series of slightly surreal Persian miniatures. Read aloud, the cumulative effect of Serres’s words is inspiring; children may sit up straighter as they hear that someone has thought about all the things they need: “I have the right to be free from any kind of violence, and no one has the right to take advantage of me because I am a child. No one.” In the context of a classroom discussion, this is a powerful work, and a handsome one. An afterword notes that the U.S. is one of only three countries not party to the convention. Ages 4–7. (June)