Taking the lead: how Jacinda Ardern wowed the world by David Hill

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Illus. by Phoebe Morris. Penguin Books, 2020. ISBN: 9780143774518.
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. On 15 March 2019, a gunman killed and wounded Muslims while they were at prayer in the mosque at Christchurch. Without hesitation, New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern flew to Christchurch, donned a head scarf and hugged those affected by this act of terrorism. Her speech punctuated with the phrase, 'we are one' was heard around the world, a response from her heart.
And reading this absorbing book takes the reader to her background and experiences which have made her what she is, a stalwart amongst world's leaders, a shining example of humility and understanding.
From her early years growing up on an orchard at Waikato, concerned that others in her class did not have access to the things she took for granted, to helping her aunt's campaign in New Plymouth, to going overseas and working in Tony Blair's office, then becoming the president of the Union of Socialist Youth where she travelled widely; each step gave her the confidence and the experiences needed to help her become the youngest elected MP in New Zealand's parliament in 2008. Dismissed by commentators in the same way that Australia's Julia Gillard was, Jacinda promoted improving the lives of women, teaching te reo Maori in schools, and tackling climate change and was elected her party's leader in 2017.
Her story is one of dedication and sticking to her ideals. Her saying, 'let's do this' is often heard when she has work to do, and nothing seems to phase her. Her reaction to the massacre in 2019, leading New Zealand to restricting access to guns, has made her someone to be admired and emulated. And her stamina and work ethic is stressed by the use of the bee on many pages.
This brief book is most informative, each sentence full of facts and interest, the illustrations placing Jacinda within her background, the beehive parliament house in Wellington, the orchard in Waikato, to the world stage meeting the queen in a korowai, a Maori robe. All is brought together with a most useful timeline at the end of the book. A wonderful biography for younger readers of one of this century's outstanding leaders. Themes: Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand, Leadership, Terrorism, Biography.
Fran Knight