Michelle Mulder of Victoria has cycled across Canada, taught creative writing in the Arctic and married the Argentine pen pal she'd been writing to since age fourteen.

Her first book in the Kids' Power series, Maggie and the Chocolate War (Second Story), recalled a children's 'strike' against chocolate in Canada following World War II.

In a similar vein, Yeny and the Children for Peace (Second Story $14.95) recalls the Children's Peace Movement in Colombia. It's the story of nine-year-old Yeny and her family who are forced to move to Bogota to escape from armed groups that have attacked their mountain village. When Yeny wants to participate in organizing a peace carnival, her parents are afraid for her. The story is based on the Colombian Children's Movement for Peace which organized one full day without military activity or kidnappings throughout the country on October 25, 1996.

Ten-year-old Rosario Ramirez is teased for her inability to speak English when she arrives in Canada with her Mexican parents who are political refugees, so she vows not to speak the new language until she can eliminate all traces of her Spanish accent. Trouble is, when she joins her family as labourers on B.C. fruit farms for the summer, she is surrounded by other Spanish speakers, so it's hard to improve her English skills. In Michelle Mulder's After Peaches (Orca $7.95), for ages 8-11, Rosario must come to terms with her fears about raising her voice when her closest friend José becomes very ill and neither José or Rosario's parents can speak English adequately to get him the help he desperately needs. 978-1-55469-176-0

Out of the Box (Orca, 2011) is Mulder's tale of thirteen-year-old Ellie, who finds an Argentine instrument called a bandoneon in her aunt's basement, sets out to find its owner and ultimately uncovers family secrets.

The world's landfills are overflowing, but perhaps with some revolutionary thinking the items we throw away can be transformed from garbage into a valuable resource. In Trash Talk (Orca, 2015) Michelle Mulder examines the history of garbage and how people around the world are creatively dealing with waste.

For young adults questioning the benefits of consumerism and accepting that leaning towards a more sustainable lifestyle is a good thing, Michelle Mulder wrote Pocket Change: Pitching in for a Better World (Orca 2016). She covers topics such as microlending, when the first coins were invented, can we live without money, and how to get to know your neighbours and protect the environment at the same time.

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We have largely banished wild life from suburbia beyond hummingbirds and robins. In North America, most homeowners and tenants alike abhor raccoons. The occasional squirrel is okay, but snakes and wolves and bears are definitely verboten.

There are feral chickens in Miami and Berlin has wild boars, but most cities won't allow you to keep a goat. An attitude to treat wildlife as invaders, akin to rats, has led to alienation from nature in general. That's why Michelle Mulder's Going Wild: Helping Nature Thrive in Cities (Orca $19.95) makes the case for more biodiversity in urban areas.

Mulder encourages kids to build garden boxes in parking lots, or grow edible mushrooms in the bathroom, or perhaps put vegetable scraps into a vermicomposter to feed worms that will help in the garden.

Composting is good for the soul and the soil. Kids like Adeline Tiffanie Suwana in Jakarta have to lead the way. To counteract constant flooding, at age ten she invited 150 friends to plant mangrove trees to keep the soil from washing away. They have since formed an organization in Indonesia called Sawabat Alam (Friends of Nature).

Kids in Dundas, Ontario worked with their parents and teachers to rip up pavement and build an interpretive wetland outside their classroom. In Adelaide, Australia, kids helped plant three million native trees. Elks are now as common in Helsinki as deer are in parts of Victoria. Let the moose loose. Let the grass amass.

Going Wild is all about helping nature make a comeback, making room for wilderness amid the concrete.
9781459812871

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BOOKS:

Maggie and the Chocolate War (Second Story Press $14.95) 978-1-897187-27-2 2007

Yeny and the Children for Peace (Second Story Press $14.95) 978-1-897187-45-6 2008

After Peaches (Orca Young Readers, 2009)

Out of the Box (Orca, 2011) 978-1-55469-328-3

Not a Chance (Orca, 2012)

Pedal It! How Bicycles are Changing the World (Orca, 2013). 978-1-4598-0219-3

Brilliant!: Shining a Light on Sustainable Energy (Orca 2013) $19.95 978-1-4598-0221-6

Every Last Drop: Bringing Clean Water Home (Orca 2014) $19.95 9781459802230

Trash Talk: Moving Toward a Zero-Waste World (Orca, 2015) $19.95 9781459806924

Pocket Change: Pitching in for a Better World (Orca 2016) $19.95 978-1-4598-0966-6

Going Wild: Helping Nature Thrive in Cities (Orca 2018) $19.95 978-1045981-288-8

Home Sweet Neighbourhood: Transforming Cities One Block at a Time (Orca 2019) $19.95 978-1-4- 59816916

The Vegetable Museum (Orca 2019) $10.95 978-1-459816-679-4

[BCBW 2019] "Kidlit"