Little People, Big Dreams: Vanessa Nakate / The Flying Man

Little People, Big Dreams: Vanessa Nakate
Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara, illustrated by Olivia Amos
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

In this addition to the excellent series we meet a young and outstanding activist. As a child growing up, Vanessa lived with her parents in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. Her parents always encouraged her to speak out for what she thought was right, but in the countryside where she attended school, climate change seemed a world away.

At university however she began noticing how, despite being the least responsible, Africans were suffering most by climate change. Thus she became an activist and persuaded her friends and relations to do likewise. She spoke out against the destruction of the Congolian rainforests and its consequences and one day she, one of few from the African continent, was invited to join other young climate activists in New York where they hoped to make world leaders take action against global warming.

When she returned home Vanessa continued her fight and after a setback at a protest in Switzerland, her work has been recognised
and now she is an inspiration to fellow young Africans and indeed the entire world. A vital topic and with its focus on Africa, this is an excellent book to inspire KS1 readers to use their own voices and indeed actions, to support the on-going fight to save the planet.

The Flying Man
Mike Downs and David Hohn
Astra Young Readers

In this picture book biography Mike Downs pays tribute to a relatively unknown German aviator, Otto Lilienthal, whose pioneering spirit led him to create the first flying machine.

Perseverance was key as despite considerable skepticism from others around, he and his younger brother, Gustav worked away observing, experimenting, testing and improving their designs until in 1891 Otto was successful in making a hang glider that travelled through the air . Eventually in 1896 in a more sophisticated (albeit still flimsy) glider he soared above admiring crowds with, so the illustrator shows, a euphoric expression on his face.

Following this a photograph dubbed him ‘The Flying Man’ but sadly a week later, Otto died from injuries that were the result of a crash. (This information the author places in an afterword) Nonetheless his work inspired many other fliers, including the Wright brothers who cited Otto as their greatest inspiration.

It’s evident from his writing that author of this book Mike Downs, found Otto Lithenthal inspirational too.

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