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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Peace, Baby! Written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2013. $18.99 ages 2 and up

"Dress up time:
You grab the gown,
but Phoebe snags the
sparkly crown.

Would a princess push
her down?

No! Peace, baby."

In this lovely book about the many emotions that human beings feel, Linda Ashman takes a light look at how we can deal with them in a setting meant for preschoolers. Not intended to be smug or self-righteous, it is rather a happy look at what happens when children are together. Sometimes they are annoyed, frustrated, sad, angry, even jealous. It happens.

Peace, Baby opens the dialogue that may help them deal with situations as they arise, or even just to talk about the many ways they feel. I love that this book encourages us to act in peaceful ways; there seems to be so much anger in the world....honking horns, irritated huffs in waiting lines at the grocery store, strong and unreasonable reactions to the most innocent actions. If those who are older than the little ones for whom this book is written set a stage for peaceful response, what kind of change would we see in the world?  
The rhythmic patterns of the described events add fun and enjoyment. The repetitive refrain 'Peace, baby!' offers little ones a cheery response. It is calming, while also providing a happy atmosphere for sharing those little annoyances that sometimes get in the way of being a friend. And, it's not just for little ones. We all need to think seriously about our own responses to life's little dramas!

The gentle, warm feel of the watercolor illustrations done by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff add their own sense of quiet peacefulness. The pastel colors, the expressive and caring children, and the various familiar settings encourage readers to pay attention to the action and reaction on each double page spread. They are as light and airy as the solution to each of the dilemmas, and that is a good thing!

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