How do we interest children in the lives and ideas of exceptional people? This book concentrates on those who have campaigned for change in our world, often at great personal cost. It is organised round 15 biographies, each taking up either a double spread or page. The campaigners include well known political activists like Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King as well as environmentalists like Arundhati Roy and Rachel Carson, inspirer of the ‘green’ movement, humanitarians like Bob Geldof, and the philosopher and peace campaigner, Bertrand Russell. The information is presented in a format reminiscent of an encyclopaedia with, in each case, a brief summary covering early life, campaigns, key moments, personal life and honours; then the main text is organised under headings appropriate for each entry, illustrated with well chosen photographs.
So to return to my earlier question – is the book as inspirational as the people who are its concern? It is certainly a good reference source on the topic for children in the early secondary years and perhaps even for older primary school children. It is well written and has a useful timeline and glossary as well as a clear index. But getting the detail of each rich and complex life into a double spread, or even less in some cases, is a challenge. So what is here is best regarded as a starting point for the sort of class or group discussion that will inspire young talkers and readers to reflect deeply and research further.