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Free?Review - Free?
Stories About Human Rights
by Amnesty International (Editor)
Candlewick, 2010
Review by Amy Ridley
Sep 7th 2010 (Volume 14, Issue 36)

This is a collection of short stories that explore the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The stories touch on topics such as child labor, the lack of government response to Hurricane Katrina and the right a person has to belong to a country. Each story ends with an article from the Declaration of Human Rights that was highlighted by the story.

One story looks at a family having to leave their home and country because the father of the family voted against the "Old Man." The father was caught dancing in celebration when it was predicted that the ruling dictator of their country would lose the election. The next day it was announced that there had been a mistake with the counting and the Old Man had in fact won. The family's field was burned that evening and the police told them to take their things and leave because their house will be burned next. The family must try and sneak across the border into another country which is monitored by guards. The family seems in shock that something as innocent as dancing over the freedom to vote for who they wanted could result in their being driven out of their own country. Article 14 states that if we are frightened of being treated badly in our own country, we all have the right to go to another country.

Many of the stories are simply told but really illustrate how often basic human rights are broken. The United States is universally praised for allowing its citizens every freedom but the story about Hurricane Katrina shows how even the most democratic of societies can deny their citizens their basic rights. The story about Katrina is told in verse and describes one group trying to get something as basic as water and having to overcome tremendous obstacles in order to get it. It's hard for the reader to believe that these injustices take place throughout the world let alone in their own country.

Some stories describe great acts of heroism that save the lives of many people. For example, the boy who follows his gut and ends up saving children from a life of slavery and working in a sweatshop.  Other stories describe more personal acts of heroism and bravery such as the boy whose father helps his family escape their country to live in freedom in Ireland. The brave father hopes to join his family soon since he had to stay behind.

While the stories happen in locations all around the world, the universal theme of equality is evident in each story. Not everyone enjoys total freedom but it is something that everyone strives for. The book shows how affected people are when their freedom is in question. Some stories show how freedom can be used as a weapon against others while other stories show how hard people will fight to protect the freedom of strangers. The stories touch off a range of emotions and leave the reader with a lot to think about regarding their own rights and freedoms.

This book is appropriate for all ages.

 

© 2010 Amy Ridley

 

 

Amy Ridley received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Boston University.


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