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Picture books for International Day of Peace

Today is the UN’s International Day of Peace, an annual day “devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.” Celebrate — and share a hope for peace for all — by reading these picture books about compassion, community, and interconnectedness with a child in your life. All were recommended at their time of publication by The Horn Book Magazine and Guide. Reviews reprinted from The Horn Book Guide Online.

campoy_maybe-something-beautifulHoping to brighten her “gray city,” Mira gifts her art to the diverse people around her in Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell. Her quest expands when she meets an artist; together they involve the whole neighborhood in filling every surface with art and poetry. The mixed-media illustrations — created by Rafael López, one of the founders of the Urban Art Trail movement on which this story is based — joyfully celebrate creation and community. (Houghton, 2016)

frank_lend-a-handIn each free-verse poem in John Frank’s collection Lend a Hand, a child narrator recalls acting generously (sharing a sandwich, spending time with a lonely neighbor, etc.). Coupled with expansive, freeze-the-moment acrylic, colored-pencil, and pastel illustrations, frequent line breaks invite readers to move slowly through each poem and linger in the moments of kindness. London Ladd’s art particularizes the diverse array of narrators, themes, and settings. (Lee, 2014)

gandhi_grandfather gandhiGandhi explains that he, too, feels anger but has learned to channel it for good. Unusual for its child-centered portrait of Gandhi, the graceful narrative of Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus’s Grandfather Gandhi is matched by Evan Turk’s vivid mixed-media illustrations, rendered in watercolor, paper collage, cotton fabric, yarn, gouache, pencil, tea, and tinfoil. (Atheneum, 2014)

graham_vanilla-ice-creamWhat’s the relationship between a samosa stand somewhere in India and an outdoor café somewhere in Australia? What’s the link between young Annisha and Suhani, playing hopscotch in the dust, and baby Edie in her stroller? The answer: one small sparrow. In Bob Graham’s quiet book Vanilla Ice Cream,  his signature theme — connection — remains vibrant and joyous; his loving portraits portray people of all shapes, sorts, and conditions. (Candlewick, 2014)

halperin_peace2With kaleidoscopic images and spare text — supplemented with related quotes from writers and world figures — each double-page spread of Peace gives readers a different way to think about peace, from a world view to the home level. Wendy Anderson Halperin’s quiet, detailed colored-pencil and watercolor illustrations depict scenes of people living in harmony with other humans, animals, and the environment. Children’s drawings are also integrated into the book. (Atheneum, 2013)

lawson_sidewalk flowersIn Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, a man and child walk through a rundown city and through a park. The man listens to his phone; the child gathers wildflowers from pavement cracks, then begins giving them away. Ambiguities are subtly hinted at in this wordless book. The pen-and-ink art by Sydney Smith is well paced, with broad, assured lines in dramatic black enhanced by gray wash. Significant details appear in increasingly vibrant watercolor. (Groundwood, 2015)

lebox_peace-is-an-offeringWith many examples of humane behavior, Annette LeBox’s simple, quiet rhyming book Peace Is an Offering features a diverse group of youngsters going through their activities in an urban setting, sharing, helping, consoling, laughing, and truly listening to one another. A subtle reference to 9/11 will require explanation. Stephanie Graegin’s pencil and watercolor illustrations have been digitally manipulated but have an old-fashioned, comforting look. (Dial, 2015)

rockliff_chik-chak-shabbatEvery Saturday Goldie Simcha prepares cholent (stew) to share with her neighbors on the Sabbath in Mara Rockliff’s Chik Chak Shabbat. When Goldie is sick, her neighbors create their own (somewhat stereotypical) multicultural feast. It’s the embodiment of community, warmth, memory, and tradition — i.e., the Jewish observance of Shabbat. Kyrsten Brooker’s oil and collage pictures evoke a cheerful urban setting through small details about the apartment dwellers. Recipe appended. (Candlewick, 2014)

sanabria_as-time-went-byA luxury liner is downgraded to a freighter, then abandoned. A once-wealthy family ends up in an impoverished village, which is then cleared by the landowner. Mixed-media illustrations become muted as circumstances grow more difficult. Happily, the villagers make a new home, filling the ship’s deck with bright tents. José Sanabria’s affecting picture book As Time Went By is an excellent reminder of the value of belonging when all seems lost. (North-South, 2016)

scanlon_all the worldIn All the World, a family visits the beach, a farmers’ market, and a park, then hosts a gathering of friends and family. Liz Garton Scanlon’s rhyming text has a child-friendly simplicity around which Marla Frazee’s illustrations build a satisfying narrative. The West Coast seaside setting showcases not only Frazee’s affectionate mix of people but also her familiar skyscapes, glowing with color and shaded with horizontal lines. (Simon/Beach Lane, 2009)

families_shannon_one-familyAuthor George Shannon and illustrator Blanca Gómez’s One Family is a loving concept book about the multitudes contained in the number one (“One is five. One bunch of bananas. One hand of cards. One family”). Lyrical text and warm illustrations depict diverse families ranging from one member to ten. A final spread brings the families together, their interactions underlined by the conclusion that “one is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family.” (Farrar/Foster, 2015)

stead_sick day for amos mcgeeEvery day kindly zookeeper Amos McGee plays chess with the elephant, keeps the penguin company, reads stories to the owl, etc. When Amos stays home one day, his friends have just the right medicine: they make time to visit their pal. In Caldecott Medal winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Erin E. Stead’s attentively detailed pencil and woodblock illustrations reveal character and enhance the cozy mood of Philip C. Stead’s gentle text. (Roaring Brook/Porter, 2010)

thompson_forgiveness-gardenIn Lauren Thompson’s The Forgiveness Garden, Sama is hurt by a boy from the enemy village, but she decides to end the cycle of hate by building a “forgiveness garden” instead of retaliating. Christy Hale’s mixed-media collages in a limited palette of natural colors beautifully illustrate this gentle but profound parable. An afterword addresses the Garden of Forgiveness in Lebanon and the movement to spread its peaceful message. (Feiwel, 2012)

watkins_love will see you throughSally Wern Comport’s colorful mixed-media art illustrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s six precepts, focusing on peace-filled love over violence in Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs. Angela Farris Watkins, King’s niece, cites specific examples of victorious actions, including the desegregation of Alabama buses and his famous “Letters from the Birmingham Jail,” explaining with “love and respect” the importance of the fight for equality. The foundation of King’s philosophy will resonate with all ages. (Simon, 2015)

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