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Dare to Be Different
Inspirational Words from People Who Changed the World
Illustrated by Quinton Winter
By Ben Brooks
Formats and Prices
- ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD
- Hardcover $17.99 $22.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around March 22, 2022. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
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The things we say, write, and sing can inspire, comfort, uplift, and excite other people. But words do not only provoke emotions, they lead to action too. This book, like most others, is a collection of words. What makes these words different is how they changed the world and changed peoples' lives. Some of them were heard by millions of people around the planet, while others were written in personal letters from one person to another. Learn more about 75 people throughout history who have used their words to make a difference in the world, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nujeen Mustafa, Lin Yutang, Lydia Maria Child, Malala, Socrates, Sampa the Great, and more. Fully illustrated with art by Quinton Winter, this new middle grade book is sure to uplift and inspire young readers to use words to change the world.
Jay was one of the biggest actors in the Middle East. Millions of people in the Arabic-speaking world knew him from his films. But life wasn’t easy. In Syria, where Jay is from, it was growing increasingly difficult to criticize the people in charge. Jay was asked to speak out in support of the government on TV. When he refused, they started to harass and threaten him.
Jay secretly met up with a journalist from America and explained to her what was going on in Syria. The publication of the article put Jay’s life in danger. He fled to America, where his wife and children were already living.
In America, nobody knew who he was. He hadn’t been able to bring any of his money with him when he moved, so he took a job delivering pizza just to make enough to cover the bills.
Jay didn’t give up on acting. He went to every audition he could, determined to find even the smallest part. Eventually, his hard work paid off, and he was given a big role in a film called Queen of the Desert. How did he do it?
“PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE. AND FOCUS. I CAME FROM BEING IN THE TOP OF MY LEAGUE AS AN ACTOR IN MY COUNTRY, TO A PLACE WHERE NOBODY KNEW ME. I STARTED WITH ANY PARTS I COULD GET BY AUDITIONING, EVEN FOR A TWO-LINE PART. YOU HAVE TO HAVE A ‘DO WHATEVER IT TAKES’ ATTITUDE.”
Jay starred in the film with one of the most famous Hollywood stars in existence, Nicole Kidman. When Jay and Nicole went to film at a market in Morocco, she was amazed to see that more of the people swarming around them recognized Jay than her. “Are these fans of yours?” she asked Jay. He told her they were, that to Arabic-speakers, he was very famous.
Jay proved that even when it might feel as though you’ve lost everything, it is always possible to come back. Nothing is permanent. We all go through ups and downs; it’s just a matter of refusing to believe that the downs will last forever.
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
In 1868, Louisa’s novel, Little Women, was published in America. The first edition of 2,000 copies sold out so quickly that the publisher rushed to print more. Thousands and thousands of people fell in love with the four March sisters in the story: Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy. Readers felt almost as though the girls were their own friends and sisters.
Louisa herself had grown up as one of four sisters. Their father, Amos, would drag them around the country as he carried out plans he hoped would change their lives. He tried opening schools that focused on what the students wanted to learn. That failed. He tried starting a community that lived off the land and refused to buy anything made by enslaved people. That failed too.
When Louisa started writing, she wrote all kinds of books, including fairy tales, horror stories, comedies, and romances. She wrote under many different names and found some success, though it was nothing compared to what was to come.
One year, Louisa’s father asked a big publishing house if they would put out his philosophy book. The editor, Thomas Niles, said that he would publish the book only if Amos could convince Louisa to write a story for girls. Louisa wasn’t sure at first. She said she didn’t really know anything about girls or what they wanted.
In the end, she started turning the story of her own life with her sisters into a book. That book became Little Women, which has since sold millions of copies and been turned into countless plays, films, and TV shows. In chapter four of the book, the youngest sister, Amy, tells her husband:
“I AM NOT AFRAID OF STORMS, FOR I AM LEARNING HOW TO SAIL MY SHIP.”
Amy knew that it’s impossible to learn how to really sail on smooth, still waters. It’s in storms that we learn the most important lessons of all; it’s the difficult times that truly teach us how to sail our ships. It turned out that all of the hard things her family had been through were what enabled Louisa to write a story that has gone on to mean so much to so many.
Julie’s parents split up when she was very young. At first, Julie lived with her father, but she later moved in with her mother and stepfather. The family were poor. Rats lived in the pipes of their house.
Both of her parents worked as performers and it became clear that Julie would follow in their footsteps. She had a beautiful voice and audiences went wild when they heard her sing.
In fact, her performances were so successful that it wasn’t long before Julie was the one earning the money for her family. She was cast in a West End show, where someone who worked for Disney spotted her. They were working on a film and thought that Julie would be perfect for the main part.
That role was Mary Poppins. It would turn Julie into an actress who was known and loved around the world.
Then, in 1965, Julie played the lead part in a film based on a musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The film was called The Sound of Music and it told the true story of the von Trapps, a family of singers living in Austria just as the world was on the verge of descending into war. The film was so successful, it broke records in twenty-nine countries. One song in particular proved very popular. In it, Julie sang:
“WHEN THE DOG BITES, WHEN THE BEE STINGS, WHEN I’M FEELING SAD—I SIMPLY REMEMBER MY FAVORITE THINGS AND THEN I DON’T FEEL SO BAD.”
Some years later, after surgery on her throat, Julie found that she’d lost her singing voice. She didn’t let that slow her down. She wrote children’s books, acted in films, and even gave her voice to the queen in Shrek. As Julie sung in The Sound of Music, when life gets difficult, it’s important to remember the things that mean the most to us. Whether it’s friends, family, ice cream, or football, there’s always something that can be a light in times of darkness.
Jane’s family loved reading aloud to each other. She first started writing just to make her siblings and parents laugh. The Austens were a big family. Jane had six brothers and one sister and they lived together in a sleepy English village called Steventon.
When she was a teenager, Jane would fill notebooks with her stories. One of these notebooks contained a tale called “Love and Friendship,” in which Jane made fun of the typical romance novels of the time by exaggerating the way the women talked and acted. In the book, the character Sophie is dying of consumption, and as she is on her deathbed, she gives this advice to her friend Laura:
“RUN MAD AS OFTEN AS YOU CHOOSE, BUT DO NOT FAINT!”
It would be many years before anyone outside of Jane’s family would read those words. Her first published novel was written later, when Jane was in her twenties. She paid with her own money to have it printed. The first 750 copies of Sense and Sensibility were put together and they very quickly sold out.
The books didn’t even have Jane’s name on the cover. Instead, they simply said “by a lady.” We don’t know exactly why Jane chose to publish her books anonymously, but many people believe it was because at the time, it might have been considered wrong for a woman to make money through her own writing.
It was only after she’d died that Jane’s work became truly popular. Her novels have now sold millions of copies and been turned into count-less films and TV shows (including a zombie version of her most famous work, titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). Though her books are set in what feels like the distant past, the emotions of love and heartbreak, jealousy and anger, hope and disappointment are all too familiar, no matter which century you’re living in.
Despite not achieving much success in her lifetime, Jane lived how Sophie encouraged Laura to live: she let her ideas and her passions run wild and she refused to ever give up.
The notebooks Jane wrote in as a teenager now have pride of place in Oxford’s Bodleian Library and the British Museum. Hundreds of thousands of fans flock to see them every year.
As a baby, Layne was adopted by a family called the Beachleys. She was eight years old when she found out that they weren’t her biological parents. Though the Beachleys loved Layne very much, she couldn’t help feeling like someone hadn’t wanted her. She dreamed of becoming a world champion. That way, she thought, everyone would love her.
It turned out Layne had both a talent and a passion for surfing. She dedicated hours to riding waves on the beach of her home in Manly, Australia. Though most surfers were men, Layne competed fearlessly against them, refusing to let anyone’s expectations hold her down.
At sixteen, Layne took part in her first professional competition. She then spent over twenty years traveling the planet, riding huge waves on beautiful beaches. She’s surfed waves twice the size of houses, and often found herself with broken bones and stitches as a result. But her injuries couldn’t hold her back, and neither could the fact that some men thought surfing wasn’t a sport that was meant for women.
How did she do it? Layne says:
“DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE TO FIT IN: BECAUSE ONCE YOU TRY AND FIT INTO SOMETHING—ESPECIALLY IF IT’S AN ENVIRONMENT WHERE YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU TRULY BELONG—THEN YOU’RE COMPROMISING ON YOUR OWN VALUES AND YOUR OWN BELIEFS.”
Layne refused to do what others expected of her. She proudly stood up and stood out, becoming one of the greatest surfers in the world. In fact, she’s the only surfer in history to have won six world titles in a row.
In 2008, Layne retired from professional surfing. But that didn’t mean her work was done. Through her charity, Aim for the Stars, Layne now encourages and supports young girls to fight for their dreams. As she said, Layne doesn’t want anyone to have to compromise on their values or beliefs, because when that happens, we lose who we really are. Layne wants all the kids who admire her to know that they don’t have to worry about how they look to others; they just have to be themselves.
One of Tatiana’s buildings is an aquarium on the coast of Mexico, designed to look like an ancient shipwreck. Another is a spaceship-like exhibition pavilion in Jinhuan Park, China. And one is a house that only costs $8,000 to construct, meaning it can be used to provide a safe, comfortable, dignified home for families who may not otherwise have anywhere to live.
Tatiana had been drawn to designing buildings from an early age. She came from a family of architects. When she received a Barbie as a present, Tatiana set about building a city for it to live in. She studied architecture at university and then went on to start designing real cities, while working for the urban housing department of Mexico City. During her time working for the government, Tatiana came to understand that Mexico didn’t have enough houses, especially for poorer families. Most low-cost housing that existed also tended to be crowded, drab, and unpleasant to live in. Tatiana was determined to do something about it. She was convinced that:
“YOU DON’T ONLY NEED TO BE AGAINST THINGS, YOU NEED TO PROPOSE A SOLUTION.”
So when Tatiana left the government, she started her own architecture firm: Tatiana Bilbao Estudio. The studio took on a number of expensive, luxury commissions, and used the funds to work on projects that could help poorer people. The $8,000 house was Tatiana’s proposed solution to the housing shortage. It is a flexible type of house, which can be easily changed to suit the number of people living in it, or even to adapt to the climate. The houses and their materials are handmade, rather than being created by machines, which helps to provide jobs in Mexico, where they’re very much needed.
As Tatiana saw, it is easy to criticize or point out the things that aren’t working. It is much harder, and much more useful, to find ways of changing them for the better.
As a child growing up in Istanbul, Elif loved coming up with inventions. She created windshield wipers for her glasses, a tiny car that was powered by wind, and a method for growing plants without soil. She knew that the best inventions were ones that solved problems.
And Elif had stumbled on a big problem.
Petroleum-based plastic is a kind of plastic that is often used for making anything from drinking bottles to sunglasses. The problem with it is that the plastic doesn’t break down, so it ends up polluting the environment and adding poisonous chemicals to our water and food. When Elif realized that thousands of tons of banana peels were being thrown away every year, she had an idea. What if she could find a way of turning those banana peels into plastic?
Elif spent two years conducting experiments to try and devise a way of turning the fruit skins into something useful. Most of them failed, but eventually she discovered a way of producing a kind of plastic that could be used to cover electrical cables. Despite only being sixteen, Elif had found a way of turning trash into something truly useful. She thinks other kids are capable of such remarkable discoveries too, and says that:
“I DON’T THINK THAT IT IS YOUR AGE THAT DETERMINES THE POTENTIAL YOU HAVE, IT IS THE UNLIMITED IMAGINATION YOU HAVE THAT GIVES YOU THE UNLIMITED POTENTIAL TO CREATE.”
Her discovery earned Elif a “Science in Action” prize, as well as making her a finalist at the Google Science Fair. The prize money will help Elif with accomplishing her dream of becoming a doctor, though that doesn’t mean she’s going to give up inventing.
While studying in college, Elif had the chance to intern at Virgin Galactic, a company that is trying to create the first fleet of craft that will take tourists into space. She helped design the passenger seats for VSS Unity, an eight-seater spaceship that has already completed test flights to the edge of outer space.
Elif has proven that it’s not how old we are that counts; it’s how big we’re willing to dream.
Whenever a Norwegian athlete wins a competition, they sing a song called “Yes, We Love This Country” written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson back in the 1860s. Although Norway didn’t actually have an official national anthem until 2019, when it came time to choose one, it was Bjørnstjerne’s piece that was picked.
Bjørnstjerne had been writing poems since he was eleven. He lived with his parents and five siblings in a remote village called Kvikne, which was spread out between the river Orkla and steep mountains covered in lush green trees. He was sent away to a school in a larger town when he turned seventeen. There, he met other writers, like Henrik Ibsen, who would all go on to shape the future of the country with their words.
Norway had become independent from the neighboring country of Denmark in 1814, although it remained united with its other neighbor, Sweden. Bjørnstjerne wrote plays, poems, and stories that celebrated his country’s own history and people, rather than the culture of its neighbors.
That didn’t necessarily mean he wanted his country to stand alone. When the time came to decide whether they would remain united with Sweden, a rumor spread that Bjørnstjerne had sent the prime minister a telegram that read “Now is the time to unite.” According to the rumor, the prime minister sent a reply that said “Now is the time to shut up.”
- On Sale
- Mar 22, 2022
- Page Count
- 160 pages
- Running Press Kids