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Children's Nonfiction Social Activists

Growing Up Elizabeth May

The Making of an Activist

by (author) Sylvia Olsen

with Cate May Burton

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
May 2021
Social Activists, Recycling & Green Living, Political, Environmental Conservation & Protection
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7
  • Reading age: 9 to 12


Elizabeth May was born to be an activist. As a young girl, Elizabeth was worried about the health of the planet and believed it was her job to protect it. While other children were playing, she was raising money for important causes, researching the latest science and organizing protests. Before most people had heard about environmentalism, she was an environmentalist, living by her principle of “I have to do something.”

Written with Elizabeth’s daughter Cate, this book reveals how Elizabeth’s activism led her to politics, first as leader of the Green Party of Canada and later as a Member of Parliament. Filled with environmental facts, profiles of young activists and tips for making change in your own community, this book is part biography and part blueprint for activists in the making.


About the authors

Sylvia Olsen's profile page

Cate May Burton is a passionate educator and social-justice advocate with a particular interest in such issues as democracy, climate change and justice for Indigenous Peoples. She grew up in an activist household, which sparked her dedication to making a better world. She has a deep love of reading, learning and meaningful conversation. Cate holds a master’s degree in women and gender studies from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Mi'kmaq territory. She continued her studies at the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory. At the time of writing this book, Cate was studying education at the University of British Columbia. She lives in Vancouver.


Cate May Burton's profile page


  • Commended, BC Books for BC Schools

Editorial Reviews

“Written in an easily readable style, biographical information is supplemented with Elizabeth’s conversational ‘Advice for Future Activists.’..With its variety and layout, the presentation is an invitation to browse and be inspired.”

Canadian Children's Book Centre

“Regardless of their current interest in social causes, readers will be inspired by the story of Elizabeth May, the youth who are currently taking action to support causes important to them, and how easy it can be to make a real difference. Highly Recommended.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“Young people interested in environmental activism will find inspiration in May’s story.”

School Library Journal

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