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A First Civics Lesson, to save democracies: What Can a Citizen Do?
by Dave Eggers & Shawn Harris

The latest book from the duo of Her Right Foot, which I talked about here, was published last week (just the day before the elections in NYC - sigh). Having appreciated their first work, I was truly looking forward to read this one.
In What can a citizen do? Eggers explores the basics of civil education, inviting children to think about two quite overworked words, citizen and society. The subject has rarely, if ever, been more relevant.

A citizen can plant a tree,
A citizen can help a neighbour,
A citizen can join a cause,
A citizen can write a letter.
A citizen can change laws.
A citizen should be engaged.
A citizen should care and care.
A citizen should build things, save things.
A citizen can be a bear.
Yes! A citizen can be a bear.
A citizen can be a kid. 

Eggers' prose is concise and affirmative, and although it's not in rhyme, it does have a musicality and it's sharp and clear enough to turn a difficult subject into a simple one.  Shouldn't civic virtue be a simple idea in the end?
The narration is accompanied and brought to life here by Harris' incredible paper cut illustrations. These are the real connection between the author and his audience, making abstract concepts more real and fun, adding a dash of humour to a seriously important conversation.
As we watch a group of children turning an island into a village,  we are asked to revise he concepts of participation and responsibility (of single individuals) and on that of belonging (to a community and society) to remind us that in a democracy citizens must be directly involved in their self-government in order to produce prosperity, peace and personal liberation.
An empowering, very current read for little ones and for adults too.
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What can a citizen do? [11th September 2018]
by Dave Eggers
Art by Shawn Harris
English-language edition published by Chronicle Books
Reading age: 4+
Themes: Non-Fiction, Civic education



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