New Elizabeth May biography for young readers explores her early activism roots

New Elizabeth May biography for young readers explores her early activism roots

Growing Up Elizabeth May offers tips for young activists who want to make change in the world

Growing Up Elizabeth May: The Making of an Activist, a new book exploring the early life and activism of Member of Parliament and former Green Party leader Elizabeth May, is out now from Orca Book Publishers.

Written by Sylvia Olsen and Elizabeth’s daughter, Cate May Burton, this nonfiction title is aimed at middle-grade readers aged 9-12. It tells the story of May’s life growing up and what motivated her to become involved in anti-pollution activism and environmentalism before these causes were being popularly discussed.

Growing Up Elizabeth May focuses on the principle that guided May since she was a young girl worried about the health of the planet: “I have to do something.”

The book is full of quotes, art and poetry from young activists as well as tips for making change in your own community. Part biography and part blueprint for activists in the making, it shows how May continues to inspire young people to stand up for the planet.

Sylvia Olsen is an award-winning author of many books, including young adult novels, first readers, picture books, history books and personal essay collections. She lives in North Saanich, British Columbia, on W̱SÁNEĆ territory.

Co-author Cate May Burton is a passionate educator and social-justice advocate with a particular interest in democracy, climate change and justice for Indigenous Peoples. She grew up in an activist household, which sparked her dedication to making a better world. At the time of writing this book, Cate was studying education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory. 

Praise for Growing Up Elizabeth May: The Making of an Activist:

“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

About Orca Book Publishers (

Founded in 1984, Orca Book Publishers is an independently owned Canadian children’s book publisher of award-winning, best-selling books in a number of genres. With 1200 active titles in print and digital formats and 95 new titles each year, Orca prides itself on publishing Canadian authors and bringing them to a wider market.

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