Taking the Lead: How Jacinda Wowed the World David Hill, illustrated by Phoebe Morris, Penguin Random House, 2020
This inspiring new book seems to have arrived at just the right moment. It is the story of how a young girl (Jacinda Ardern) becomes the Prime Minister of New Zealand. It is the sixth book David and Phoebe have done on famous Kiwis.
When Jacinda was little she had wanted to be a clown, maybe even a scientist, but when she saw children around her with no school lunches she wanted to change that, even though other children laughed at her and said she couldn’t do that.
We can’t all be Prime Minister of New Zealand nor would we all want to be. But we can dream and we can make things happen. I always loved writing as a child but I never believed I could be a writer with books until I had done a lot of other things.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is now steering our country at a time when she has to make decisions no leader in our country has ever had to make before. In her I see the little girl who wanted to make sure every child had food in their lunch boxes.
I loved discovering some of the things JACINDA did on her road to being leader:
Her first driving lesson was on a tractor in an orchard.
She went to university and then worked for the Labour Party and did research for Helen Clark.
She worked in a soup kitchen in New York.
She worked in London and worked for equal opportunities for children.
She travelled to lots of countries.
She become an MP in 2008 and was the youngest. In her maiden speech she called for action against climate change and for te reo to be taught in schools.
Newspapers and TV criticised her as a pretty woman too weak for the job.
She became Leader of the Labour Party in 2017. She had big ideas to improve the lives of New Zealanders, especially children.
That year she become Prime Minister and in 2018 she had baby Neve. Many people loved the fact a Prime Minister could also be a mother. Some didn’t!
In 2019 when a terrorist killed many people at the Christchurch mosque she wore a hijab as a sign of respect. She called for unity.
That year Fortune (a US magazine) put in her on a list of the world’s greatest leaders.
All along the way people have criticised Jacinda. A bit like calling you names in the playground. But she says she always gets on with the job. When people claim she can’t do something she just keeps trying.
Today that is exactly what she is doing when we are facing the hardest time imaginable. I see the young girl shining through who favours kindness even when she is having to make hard choices with the support of her Government.
David Hill is one of my favourite New Zealand children’s authors and was just the right person to write Jacinda’s story. This is an easy to read, heartwarming story that inspires you to do good things. We don’t all need to great things. Ordinary everyday things can be just as important. But we can learn to ignore the people who put us down and say we can’t do this and we can’t do that. Jacinda is saying ‘We can do this!’ And I think we can.
I read this book before the sun came up and thought yes, in this extraordinary time in the world when we have no sure idea of what will happen, like Jacinda I know we can help, we can be kind, we can invent new ways to do things in a year when it looks like we will have to do things very differently.
I loved reading this. It has inspired me so much.
Penguin Books author page