A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Parents should be ready to discuss this book with their kids and share their own ideas about the best way to make peace in the world.
This book provides a rather intense look at the dangers of war, and its effect on people, animals, and Earth.
Positive Role Models
Characters in the book lead peaceful lives until war arrives. Careful readers will think about what it means to be those characters -- or to be part of the war that impacts them.
Violence & Scariness
Focus is on more subtle destructive aspects of war, especially those that impact unsuspecting, innocent creatures.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this evocative poem about the hidden destruction of war presents a powerful message that is too scary for younger and sensitive readers. Younger kids will be scared more by the illustrations than by the words, and even 8- and 9-year-olds should read this book with an adult to help them understand it.
Is It Any Good?
Stefano Vitale's illustrations for this book have been called "unflinching," and Alice Walker's poem is too. Both are far from timid, unsettling at times, and completely appropriate to the message that WAR IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA. However, though it's presented in a picture book format, this is a better fit for older kids.
War is not a game, and it impacts all even though it may be happening halfway around the world. Mahatma Gandhi once wrote "if we are to reach real peace in this world...we shall have to begin with the children." However, this book may be a rough place for small kids to start. Mature readers and adults will be moved by both its beauty, ugliness, and truth -- and will find plenty to discuss.
Stefano Vitale's illustrations have been called "unflinching," and it's true, as the illustrations reflect the author's intense poetry about war's dangers: bright colors and happy, peaceful scenes fill the first few pages -- but that happiness slowly dissolves as the hidden destruction caused by war seeps in.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.