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Illustrations by Monika Doppert. Toronto, Annick Press, c1985. unpaged, paper, ISBN 0-920303-09-2. (paperbound boards) $12.95, 0-920303-07-2 (paper) $6.95. CIP

Grades 1-4
Reviewed by Enid Dorward

Volume 13 Number 4
1985 July

Imagine having no place to play. Imagine having to play in the streets all the time. This book is based on the true story of the children of the San Jose de la Urbina barrio in Caracas, Venezuela. The barrio was very poor and crowded, and the children had no place to play but the streets. Some of them decided one day that they should ask the mayor to build a playground for them. The local librarian helped them decide what to ask for, and they went to City Hall to make their request. They were told to leave, and were threatened with arrest, but eventually the mayor came to hear what they had to say. At first he did nothing about it, but after the story was published in the city newspaper, the mayor and other officials staged a ceremony announcing the coming of a playground. There was no further action. It had merely been an election promise calculated to win votes. Weeks later, children and adults from the barrio held a meeting at which it was decided that they would no longer wait for the city, they would work together to build a playground. Enthusiasm ran high, and it was not long before the San Jose Playground was ready for the children.

Here is a book that will familiarize Canadian children with living conditions of children in Venezuela and other Latin American countries. The story and the detailed illustrations depict clearly the hardships experienced by poor people, the oppression by government officials, the influence of the press, and the necessity of co-operation among people who want to change undesirable conditions. A very useful, informative, yet entertaining book, suitable for school and church libraries, particularly those having an interest in human rights.

Enid Dorward, Winnipeg, Man.
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