Protest!

Protest!
Alice & Emily Haworth-Booth
Pavilion Books

Did you know that people have been protesting since the time of Pharaoh Ramses 111, ruler of Egypt when the first workers’ strike took place in 1170 BCE? That’s something I learned from the first section of this book by sisters Alice and Emily that looks at the global history of protest from then (the hard-working pyramid workers were demanding more food) until now with Greta Thunberg and school children’s strikes for the climate.

It’s good to know that from early on (195 BCE) women were protesters. The women of Rome marched for the right to dress the way they wanted – and they won!

Thereafter come the peasants’ revolt, and in the 1640s the Levellers and the Diggers about whom I knew nothing before reading about them herein. Included too are the Native American Ghost Dance (1890s); the Protest Ploughs of the Maoris towards the end of the 19th century, the Salt March and of course, the Abolitionist movement, the Suffragettes (UK) and many other women’s movements in various parts of the world.

Two movements I was personally interested in and strongly supported, the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the anti-nuclear movement are covered,

as are the Stonewall Riots, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Arab Spring and bang up to date, Black Lives Matter and Extinction Rebellion.

The authors also talk about some of the creative means of protesting: singing, tree-hugging, theatre and other performing art and even using toys as protesters.

An uplifting, inspiring and timely look at how protesting has changed our society and the world we share. Emily provides the illustrations, and she and Alice co-authored the text. It’s a call to action for sure.

The Last Tree

The Last Tree
Emily Haworth-Booth
Pavilion Books

Trees are one of our planet’s greatest assets in the fight against climate change, so why oh why are the grownups in The Last Tree so careless in their use of this precious resource?

We first meet them when they’re searching for a suitable place to live and they spy their first tree; it’s part of a forest. They enjoy the summer living among the trees and sleeping outdoors.

Come winter they start cutting down a few branches for firewood but this leaves space for the rain to come through and extinguish their fire.

With each new season the loss of the trees creates further problems provoking yet more trees to be lost culminating with the construction of …

Now only one spindly specimen remains.

Inevitably with no view except their wall, the villagers become inward, self-obsessed and thoroughly disenchanted. Instead of a happy community they distrust one another and the adults in every family covet that single remaining tree sending their children to harvest it.

With axes in hand the children creep beyond the wall but in the joy of seeing one another they quickly forget their purpose. Rather than cutting down that tree they care for it, watching it thrive and grow, bringing instead planks to their parents who use them for barricading themselves in their homes.

Even so the wind comes blowing down the fences and out rush the adults to discover …

In the bright daylight they recall the good times and understand their foolishness.
Time to make a fresh start: and so it is that the last tree becomes the first of a brand new forest.

A timely parable of the destruction of the natural world and its effect on our planet’s climate, made all the more effective by Emily’s hugely potent graphics rendered in shades of green and grey.

As in our ‘extinction rebellion’ times, here too it’s children who have the imagination to become the agents of change.

The King Who Banned the Dark

The King Who Banned the Dark
Emily Haworth-Booth
Pavilion Children’s Books

There was once a boy who, like many children was afraid of the dark. The difference here is that the boy in question is a prince.
He resolves that as soon as he becomes King he will ban the dark once and for all.

His advisers are wary of his subjects’ response and so instead their plan is to make the king’s subjects think that getting rid of the dark is their idea.

They start spreading anti dark rumours, which soon have the desired affect. Now all that’s left to do is to ensure darkness never returns; this is done by the installation of a massive artificial sun above the palace and light enforcers.

Soon people have dispensed with their curtains, anti-dark hats are given out, lamps shine continuously and nights are spent in celebrating.

Unsurprisingly this crazy situation is unsustainable: the pleasure of continual celebrating wanes and instead, constant sleeplessness results in extreme tiredness. The people realise they’ve made a huge mistake. (Sounds familiar)
Even the King is affected.
Something must be done: his advisors hatch a plan. So too do the people.

All power to the people say I; and it’s they who finally win through.

To me this reads like a cautionary tale of our BREXIT times. But no matter how you interpret Emily Haworth-Booth’s debut picture book it’s a powerful reminder of what might happen when people act in haste without thinking things through.

Her choice of a predominantly yellow, black and white colour palette is perfect for spotlighting the messages of the story, not least of which are that we have the collective power to influence our future and, to do things rather than to let things be done to us. Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel: bring on The People’s Vote.

A smashing and thoroughly provocative picture book. Wither next for Emily Haworth-Booth I wonder: I can’t wait to see.