We Have a Dream

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Book Review, Illustrated book, Non-Fiction

We have a dream cover

Book Details

We Have a Dream
Mya-Rose Craig, illus. Sabrena Khadija. Dunsfold, Surrey: Magic Cat Publishing, hb, 978 1 91352 020 5, 2021, £12.99, 64pp.
Non-fiction, illustrated book, 7+ years

At a 2023 event at London’s Royal Festival Hall a panel of impressive young women climate activists and environmental campaigners spoke to a large receptive audience. Mya-Rose Craig was one of them.

I had previously read her book Birdgirl, a name she is well known by. There, she describes growing up in a family of combined British-Bangladeshi heritage with whom she has travelled the world to see and learn about birds on every continent.

Her work as a campaigner for the environment and equal rights has brought Mya-Rose into contact with and awareness of many other young people around the world engaged as contributors to this vital work. In We Have a Dream, she highlights the lives and activities of ‘30 Young Indigenous People of Colour Protecting the Planet’ – the book’s subtitle.

A double page spread is devoted to each of the young people. The format is in the style of books of multiple biographies that has become familiar since the Rebel Girls series first hit our shelves. On the left side. an information box details each person’s specific dream. It also states the year they were born and their ethnicity, as these often have a strong link to the ecological projects with which they are involved. This is embedded within a description of their work. On the right hand page, there is an illustration of the person by Sierra-Leonean-American artist Sabrena Khadija. For these portraits a limited colour palette is used, often predominantly of greens and blues, that fittingly evokes and echoes the earthly and environmental concerns of the text.

While this book highlights individuals, there are frequent reminders that individual and collective activism needs to combine with addressing the powerful in order for wider change to occur. Yujin Kim with Youth 4 Climate Action Korea is suing the South Korean government, as their greenhouse gas emission target is inadequate. Ander Congil Ross takes part in local clean-up projects alongside being an organiser in Spain’s climate strike movement demanding action from political leaders. Vanessa Nakate organised a strike against the Ugandan government’s inaction on climate change and went on to found Youth for Future Africa. At a 2020 conference of climate activists, Vanessa was cropped out of a photograph that then showed only four white climate activists. This demonstrates an important reason for a book like this one in the struggle against racist erasure linked in to combatting climate change.

A lot of research has gone into creating this book and putting the wealth of information into an accessible format. As well as recognising the significant work and campaigning of these 30 young people and their colleagues, it will encourage others to feel that they are not alone in their concerns about climate change and that working together makes a future for our planet seem more possible.


Review by Ann Lazim