The Enemy: A Book About Peace Book Poster Image

The Enemy: A Book About Peace

Simple lesson about war and enemies; not for little kids.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The soldier realizes his enemy is a human being too, rather than a beast, and that he has a family and that they share many of the same feelings.

Violence & scariness

Cartoon-like illustrations show soldiers, guns, axes, and other weapons being thrown from foxhole to foxhole. The soldier also talks about fears of being killed.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that they should be prepared to talk about war, soldiers, weapons, killing, and fear with their children. The message is one of peace, but the problems are those of war.

Kids say

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What's the story?

On the battlefield, two enemy soldiers hide out in opposing foxholes. They shoot at each other each morning, and otherwise sit and wait. After days of hunger and desperate loneliness, days filled with fear of killing and being killed, the narrator soldier crawls over to the enemy soldier's hole, finds him missing, and makes a discovery that convinces him that declaring peace is the only answer.

Is it any good?


For a child who is concerned about war and aware of its guns and weapons, this book with a powerful message could open up an important discussion. Discussions with children about war seem necessary in this day and age, but they are always difficult. We want to save their innocence, keep them unafraid, but yet teach them to live peaceful, productive lives. When should we talk about the actual violence of war in addition to teaching lessons about respecting one another, using words to solve problems, and so on? That is the trickier question.

It does not attempt to address the abstract complexities of war. Instead, its message is simple and unsentimental: all humans, even your enemies, share similar hopes, fears, and feelings. More than likely, they would like the war to end just as much as you would, and for the same reasons. That point is made loud and clear in understated text that expresses the inner thoughts and discoveries of the lone soldier. His sparse words, coupled with James Thurber-like cartoons that are similarly simple, effectively deliver the message that peace is the better option.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the two soldiers, how similar they are, and what keeps them at war. Why do they shoot at each other when they do not even know each other? Why don't they stop? What are they afraid of? What does the soldier see when he goes to his enemy's hole? How does it change the way the soldier thinks?

Book details

Author:Davide Cali
Illustrator:Serge Bloch
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Schwartz & Wade
Publication date:April 14, 2009
Number of pages:40

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Parent Written byMakakilo Mamma February 8, 2012

Great book.

This is great for discussion. My son who is 5 read it with me. He could sense right away the soldiers pain, fear, frustration. He had lots of questions. It was educational, inspiring, and the soldiers were good role models you will see why. The open ending had my child wondering and hoping...
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models