30 lives that achieved greatness before age 20.
No one ever said you had to be a grown-up to do something great. The boys in Canadian Boys Who Rocked the World have proved this to the world. Breaking world records, winning hearts in the limelight, changing the face of the scientific world - these boys have shaken the planet with their achievements. At 17, Louis Cyr bested the reigning Canadian strongman by lifting a 180 kg granite boulder. Wayne Gretzky was breaking NHL records by the time he was 18. Oscar Peterson won his first radio contest for piano at 14 and was awarded his own 15-minute weekly radio show.
Every day, Canadian boys find new ways to rock the world. This fascinating book profiles young men who are born to greatness as well as young boys who aspire to it.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Tanya Lloyd Kyi is the author of numerous children's books. Her work has been short-listed for the Arthur Ellis Award of the Crime Writers of Canada and the Toronto Library's Golden Oak Award. She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
At three years old, Glenn Gould was reading sheet music. He performed in his first concert when he was 12, gave a public recital at 14, and played on CBC Radio at 17. By the time he was 20, he was composing his own works and performing across Canada.
Listeners were amazed at the clarity he brought to piano compositions -- even at top speed, he played every note distinctly. As his fame grew, he toured Europe, performed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and appeared on television with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
But Glenn was never comfortable in the public eye. He insisted on certain rituals -- the same chair for every performance, for example, and time to soak his hands before playing. In 1964, he gave his last public performance. Though he continued to work, creating more than 60 recordings, he avoided public appearances and interviews. Instead, he dedicated himself to composing, recording, and creating.
Glenn died after a massive stroke in October 1982, leaving behind a reputation as one of Canada's most eccentric geniuses.
When we think of people who achieve great things in childhood, we often think first of child prodigies: musicians or mathematicians who, like Glenn, are born with phenomenal talent and go on to use their abilities to influence others around the world.
And without a few of these geniuses among us, where would we be? Albert Einstein would never have conceived the Theory of Relativity, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart would never have composed his masterpieces, and Pablo Picasso would never have begun his Blue Period.
And yet, boys around the world, and throughout Canada, have man-aged to achieve great things without being born geniuses. Some are simply born with strength, determination, and an unstoppable sense of adventure.
In 1784, when he was 14 years old, David Thompson signed on as an apprentice with the Hudson's Bay Company. His father had died before David turned two, and the young boy had spent most of his life in schools for charity cases. The idea of setting off for North America seemed irresistibly exciting, and he couldn't wait to leave London for the New World.
His adventures began almost immediately. After a year at a post on Hudson Bay, David set off on a 240-kilometre (150-mile) trek to York Factory with two native guides. He was 15 years old. In the next five years, he established new fur-trading posts, learned to hunt, studied the Cree language, and researched navigation and astronomy.
By the time he was 20, David was a respected land surveyor in an unmapped country. He became the first white man to travel from the Columbia River's source in the Rocky Mountains to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. He criss-crossed the prairies, the Rockies, and the Cascades, creating maps so detailed and accurate that they were still used by the Canadian government 100 years later.
Like many of the boys featured in this book, David Thompson went searching for new experiences. He did everything he could to get to some of the world's most isolated and dangerous places, indulging the same sense of adventure that led Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to the summit of Mount Everest, or Roald Amundsen to the South Pole.
But not all heroes go searching for new opportunities. Sometimes, ordinary people see a need or injustice and feel compelled to act. In the same way that someone might stand up to a bully at school, these people are willing to take charge of a bad situation and fight for change.
Born in Thornhill, Ontario, in 1982, Craig Kielburger was 12 years old when he happened to see a shocking photo in the newspaper. The image showed a Pakistani child labourer who had been murdered for speaking out about bad working conditions. Horrified to learn that children in other parts of the world could be sold into slavery, Craig gathered his school friends and founded an organization called Free the Children.
Since then, Craig has devoted his time to raising money and awareness. He started by speaking at local schools, and he has now appeared at conferences and protests in more than 40 countries. His organization has grown to include more than a million young people around the world. Together, these members have worked to raise money for over 400 schools and 200,000 health kits. Their clinics and kits have helped about 500,000 people.
Since he founded Free the Children, Craig has written three books about social activism, earned three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, and enrolled in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto. In 2006, he won the World Children's Prize, an award known as the "Children's Nobel Prize."
Glenn Gould, David Thompson, and Craig Kielburger lived vastly different lives at different times, but each changed the world in his unique way. Along with the 30 boys featured in the following chapters, they have one thing in common: they didn't wait. Glenn Gould never stopped to say, "I seem to have talent. Maybe when I'm 30 or 40, I'll try playing some Bach." David Thompson never said, "I might explore that river when I get older." And Craig Kielburger never paused to think, "Once I've graduated from university, I should try to help children in need."
Just like everyone else, these boys had studying to do and friends to meet. Yet they managed to pursue their dreams at the same time. And when we look at their amazing accomplishments and read about the achievements of the other boys in this book, we just might find our own inspiration to change the world. After all, what are we waiting for?
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