Three 12-year-old boys, one hot Canadian summer, one piece of land, and one dream.
Billy, a white boy, one day sees that a piece of land has emerged in the river that runs through his city. Billy is told it belongs to no one, so he and his best friends, Sami and Charlie, claim the property as their own country. Sami came to Canada as a Lebanese refugee via Abu Dhabi three years before, and Charlie is Chinese-Canadian. They decide that their country will be one founded on the principles of tolerance and equality for all, regardless of race, religion, gender, or any other differences in beliefs, but building a socially tolerant nation-state proves to be quite the task. To their surprise, their “country” soon grows to thousands of occupants. They encounter opposition in the form of a civic order of eviction and valid First Nations land claims. The biggest and final challenge is posed by nature itself. How will these three boys navigate these obstacles when they don’t even know the difference between a democracy, aristocracy, and a kingdom? This modern Utopia offers food for thought not just for children, but for adults as well, who could well benefit from applying some of the attitudes and values of the main characters. The naiveté of their approach to creating a model society at times is balanced by their believable purity of purpose.
A parable for our times. (Fiction. 10-14)