Arts Environment featured

Review: The True Cost of Coal, a beautiful little book for kids of all ages

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KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The True Cost of Coal  is a beautiful little book  that helps children of all ages explore the devastation of the Appalachian landscape by exploitative coal mining practices.    

The book is published by the Beehive Design Collective, an art activist collective whose members work anonymously. 

Lectures about connections between colonialism, capitalism, resistance, climate change, mining and free trade are necessary and useful, but they do often feel a lot like homework.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Among some of the most fun and thought provoking Mayworks events I have attended over the last few years were presentations by Halifax members of  the Beehive Design Collective around their works The True Cost of Coal and MesoAmérica Resiste in 2018 and 2019. 

Picture a huge (16 feet) banner or a wall hanging containing intricate and beautiful line drawings, mostly of local animals, plants and insects doing their things, fighting back being one of them. Banners, created in consultation with local people, took Beehive Collective artists years to complete. 

Now think of it not as a static picture, but as a storytelling device. A narrator can start in the middle, on the left, it doesn’t matter, there are so many connections to explore, so many questions to ask.

The Cost of Coal, the book, is based on the banner of the same name. It was created by two of the collective’s bees who live in Halifax. 

It’s a book, so it doesn’t provide the same kind of free floating choose-your-own-adventure options as the banners do, but it’s still a thing of beauty and a great way to talk about the threats to the environment with five-year old activists. 

Also, it rhymes! And it contains puzzles and fun little projects! And some illustrations are suitable for coloring!

Highly recommended.

Check out the book’s website to order a copy or download the pdf for free. Until the end of November, 100% of proceeds of the sale of this book will go towards 1492 Land Back Lane.

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