We are all Greta : Be Inspired to Save the World by Valentina Giannella, illustrated by Maneula Marazzi

We Are All Greta

We Are All Greta by Valentina Giannella

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We Are All Greta is interesting to me, as it touches on something incredibly potent and present within children’s books and yet a something that is, at present, somewhat under-explored. Some of this under-exploration can be perhaps ascribed to the nature of the publishing process. It is long, and the discussion about climate crisis is now. Translating the cultural discussions we’re having now – translating any sort of cultural discussion – into non-fiction is no easy nor uncomplicated act. We Are All Greta is an important step towards representing both a young activist within children’s non-fiction and also the story of climate change. It is not, I think, the final step in that process nor is it perfect. It is, however, a movement in the right direction.

Valentina Giannella sets out to create a climate change manifesto, framed about the work of Greta Thunberg. She is supportive of Greta’s activism and produces copious data to allow readers to fully understand the impact of climate change and that the activism itself is grounded on substantial scientific data. Each chapter is introduced by some remarkable art from Manuela Marazzi and you’d not go far wrong to have any of these up as a poster in your classroom. Her sense of scale and use of colour palette is impressive. I loved them.

Giannella’s text is translated from Italian, and the translation has some elements of stiffness about it. It’s all important and heartfelt stuff, but sentences such as “They have roped in parents who have had to study just as hard to produce easy-to-understand summaries for distribution in class” could have done with some restructuring. I also wondered at points who this was aimed for: this works to inspire you to save the world, and yet a vast amount of children have already engaged with climate change activisim and, indeed, are leading it. Do we need persuading if we’ve already bought into the message? I have my doubts. But then, this book is something that I’d still suggest for a library. I’d suggest it to be purchased alongside other titles and not by itself. I’d welcome suggestions for what those other titles are [please do comment below!] as I think climate change junior non-fiction is a space yet to be satisfactorily occupied.

A summation, then. We Are All Greta is a little confused but rather stunning to look at it and part of a vital, important conversation and context. It wears its heart on its sleeve and that’s something to be celebrated, even if the message itself gets a little garbled in the process.

My thanks to the publisher for a review copy.

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