Written By: Claudio Fuentes
Illustrated by: Gabriela Lyon
For Ages: 7-11 years
Topics Covered: Environmental Activism, Voting, Public Discourse, School, Social-Emotional Learning, Cooperation, Chile, Mapuche People.
Summary: One day as students are walking into school, they notice that there is a construction wall and a crane in the school yard. Confused and alarmed that the monkey puzzle tree might be cut down, students demand answers. The reader comes to find out that in order to expand the school building and open more classrooms and labs, the tree must be cut down. The school is divided into two groups: those who want to prioritize the tree’s safety and space to grow and those who want to develop the school to give students a better education.
I love this book because it exists in the grey space very well. Both sides have good points, and solid arguments are made on both sides. The school takes the students’ concerns and ideas seriously, and campaigns are taken up for each side culminating in a vote on what to do about the monkey puzzle tree and potential school expansion.
An aspect of the book that I really like is since the story takes place in Chile, and a key argument of keeping the tree is the connection to the Indigenous Mapuche people. The author takes us through different aspects of making a case for a cause a person feels passionate about. Picketing, signs, voting, and having debates. Especially right now with the American presidential election looming, we need as many reminders as possible that there is always a reason to fight for change and make your voice heard.
This book was kindly sent by Greystone Kids, but all opinions are my own!
Claudio Fuentes holds a PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina. He is the author of numerous books and articles on issues concerning democratization, security, and international relations. He lives in Santiago, Chile.