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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Peace, written and illustrated by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster, 2013. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"For there to be peace
in the world...there must
be peace in nations. For
there to be peace in nations,
there must be peace in cities.
For there to be peace in cities,
there must be peace in
neighborhoods. For there to
peace in neighborhoods, there
must be peace in schools... "

If you have seen other work by this acclaimed artist, you will not be surprised by the depth of detail she creates for each of the double-page spreads in her newest book. They remind me of stained glass windows, and invite readers into a world of peace that comes from within each of our hearts:

"When there is peace in our hearts, there will be peace in our homes".

She uses watercolor and colored pencils in warm and gentle tones, then divides her illustrations into small panels that welcome the children and animals of the world to share this tribute to peace for all. 
Accompanying the poem that moves the reader from page to page are quotes from world leaders throughout history, beginning with:

"What you do not want done to you, do not do to others." -Confucius

Every page encourages concentrated attention to the world, its inhabitants and the role we play in making it peaceful and harmonious. It is a difficult concept to each with words only. The artist uses her unquestioned talent to bring us scenes of living with respect for the land, the animals, the peoples of all nations and our own families.

To help us recognize what must be done to make peace a reality, Ms. Halperin begins by showing people who are living in disharmony. A lack of kindness to others is evident, as is solitude, bullying, environmental concerns, vast differences in education and upset in family homes. She gives readers reason for hope as we move backwards once we have 'peace in our hearts'. I love that the shift comes in the middle, where children's art takes center stage and two of my favorite quotes are placed:

"In serving the best interests of children, we will serve the best interests of all humanity." - Carol Bellamy.

"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and  still be calm in your heart." - Unknown.

As we then move backwards, all who share this book will see evidence of what happens when we decide to make our own differences...caring about the world, music, art, reading, growing our own food, helping with chores and schoolwork, being a part of communities, and acceptance of others. Each tiny vignette from the beginning finds an accompanying solution through peace in our hearts. It is a lovely message!

"May the Sun bring you new energy by day, may the moon softly restore you by night, may the rain wash away your worries, may the breeze blow new strength into your being, may you walk gently through the world and know its beauty all the days of your life." -Apache blessing

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