Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
The book Dare to be Different: Inspirational Words from People who Changed the World is a hard covered 19.5 x 25.5 cm publication which is a rich and exciting compendium for children of quotes from speeches, letters, lyrics, stories, and poems by people who have done wonderful things during their lifetime.
These one hundred people of various ages and from different times in World history, have used their skills to teach or support others who may be disadvantaged. They all displayed great wisdom and determination in their chosen field.
Throughout this book the message that comes through clearly is that there will always be those who are different and find it hard to fit in with others. Although they do not follow the expectations of the majority, they are often the ones with the greatest ideas and inventions because they think differently. Many of the people in this book are from this group. ‘The heroes of the future are often laughed at in their own lifetimes’ (84).
They give us the message that we should never give up. That if we learn from failure, then we haven’t failed at all. They encourage others to have the initiative to find answers to their questions even without expecting something in return. It is through asking questions that we get to know the world, ourselves, and others.
Most of the individuals presented lived in the 18th to 21st centuries with a large proportion still alive today. However, there are a few from much farther back in history. Many of the entries show that age is no barrier to making a difference. Several of the younger generation are presented with their important contributions. Some of these young people have been concerned about nature, others have invented solutions for problems they have discovered, while still others have overcome obstacles to follow their dreams. They all leave the reader with inspirational words which can benefit people of all ages.
Some of the unusual entries I found were Bambi, Ladyhawke and Yoda. Even these sources had much to tell a reader. While there were entries of people who were very familiar, such as actors, musicians, writers, and people from history, there were others who were unfamiliar to me. It is reassuring to know that there are so many people who are prepared to stand up for their beliefs and to give their skills and time for the benefit of others.
It was interesting to read that as far back as the beginning of the Christian era a group of people called Stoics believed that everyone on earth was part of one community and that we should strive to live in harmony with each other and with nature. In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which also states that ‘all human beings are born free and equal… and (we) should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood’ (192). When one looks at society in the 21st century it would seem that although these sentiments have been around for a long time, mankind is a slow learner.
Ben Brooks who created this book has also produced other inspirational books for children. He is ably partnered by illustrator Quinton Winter. This artist has been featured in newspapers, magazines, and other children’s books. A double page spread has been allocated to each individual highlighted. One page is for the illustration which is colourful and presents the individual in an appropriate setting. The corresponding information page has the black text on a coloured background surrounded by a narrow white border. I believe some of the colours used are a bit strong as they make reading a little difficult especially for night reading.
This book of 207 pages contains so much information and inspirational advice that it would best be read over many sittings. I found this to be a very interesting and informative book.
Dare to be Different
by Ben Brooks
illustrated by Quinton Winter
Quercus Editions Limited