An NGO’s follow-up to previous books about girls’ education and empowerment offers a well-meaning companion message of solidarity.
Photographs of boys and girls combine with first-person text ostensibly delivered from a universal boy’s voice: “As a boy, I will have choices from the day I am born. Some will be made for me… / and some I will make for myself.” While the phrase “made for me” hedges toward acknowledging the ways an individual's power is dependent on identity, most images are of children of color from developing countries (named in photo captions), and the book situates boyhood power and opportunity in a sociopolitical and historical vacuum. The text acknowledges pressures boys often face around masculinity: “As a boy, I will be told to be a man, to work, to fight, to be brave. / But as I am just a boy, sometimes I will be afraid,” but there’s room for much more exploration of this aspect of boyhood. It’s true that boys often have greater opportunities and power than girls do within their respective societies, but it’s not true that all boys “will be able to go to school and learn each day.” Furthermore, situating support for girls’ and women’s empowerment in boys’ roles as brothers, sons, and future fathers invites solidarity through familial love rather than through acknowledgement of fundamental human rights.
An uneven if well-intentioned offering. (Picture book. 4-8)