This rhyming civics lesson asks the timely and important question "What in the world can a citizen do?" -- and provides some concrete suggestions. Many of the examples in What Can a Citizen Do? are clear and simple. For instance, kids work together to build a tree house, plant a tree, and right an upturned turtle. Author Dave Eggers provides some direct instruction, such as, "A citizen can write a letter. A citizen can help change laws." And he reminds kids, "We're part of a society," so "Do something for another." In places, though, the text can feel murky, as when it says we're "a land of latticed people," or claims that "a citizen can be a bear" (when a bear joins their group). And in the interest of rhyme, it sometimes lapses into cliché: "A citizen should care and care," and society is "full of joy and pain."
The art, collage and mixed media, is fun to look at and depicts a diverse group of kids. Illustrator Shawn Harris smartly gives the kids one project that carries them from start to finish. But because the concepts in the book can be abstract, it would help if the art, too, were more solidly concrete, more clearly illustrative, throughout.