Sonderbooks Stand-out

Sonderbooks Book Review of

Why War Is Never a Good Idea

by Alice Walker

illustrations by Stefano Vitale

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Why War Is Never a Good Idea

by Alice Walker
illustrations by Stefano Vitale

Review posted October 10, 2008.
HarperCollins, 2007. 32 pages.
Starred review.
2008 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #4 Children's Nonfiction

Though War has eyes

Of its own

& can see oil



& mahogany trees

& every shining thing


The earth

When it comes

To nursing


It is blind;

Milk, especially


It cannot



Though War is Old

It has not

Become wise

It will not hesitate

To destroy

Things that

Do not

Belong to it

Things very

Much older

Than itself.

Here is a haunting and poetic, artistic and beautiful book.

The language is simple. The author talks of things that War cannot understand, but that it can destroy.

The artwork is haunting, memorable and symbolic. On one page, the words are: Picture frogs beside a pond holding their annual pre-rainy-season convention. They do not see War. Huge tires of a camouflaged vehicle about to squash them flat. The illustrations show a close-up painting of frogs on the left, with a photo of a rusty wheel on the right side, wadding up pages of peaceful villagers falling underneath it.

The portrayal is not graphic, but symbolic, making it all the more striking.

Don't read this book to your child if you want to make apologies for War, if you want to explain about necessary evils.

However, if you think you can use some convincing, or want to express an unambiguous idea to a child, this book makes a powerful and persuasive case for why War is never a good idea. The language is simple enough for a child, yet something that will linger in the mind of an adult.