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The Enemy: A Book about Peace
     

The Enemy: A Book about Peace

by Davide Cali, Serge Bloch (Illustrator)
 

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In this moving picture book, award-winning collaborators Davide Cali and Serge Bloch present a fable for our time about two lonely soldiers facing each other across a barren battlefield. What each discovers, as the story unfolds, is that the enemy is not a faceless beast, but rather a real person with family, friends, and dreams.

Overview

In this moving picture book, award-winning collaborators Davide Cali and Serge Bloch present a fable for our time about two lonely soldiers facing each other across a barren battlefield. What each discovers, as the story unfolds, is that the enemy is not a faceless beast, but rather a real person with family, friends, and dreams.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Starred Review, School Library Journal, April 2009:
"Poignant, thought-provoking, and powerful in its frankness and simplicity, this short piece will prompt discussion on war and other means of resolving conflict."

Review, The Wall Street Journal, April 25-26, 2009:
"Think of it as a kind of 'All Quiet on the Western Front' for the elementary-school set, though with chic, inventive illustration by Serge Bloch."

Publishers Weekly

In identical foxholes, two identical soldiers in khaki uniforms wait to destroy each other. "Every morning, I shoot at him. Then he shoots at me," says one. When he and his enemy both light fires or suffer in the rain, the speaker does not consider their shared hunger and misery. Instead, he consults a manual with a blood-red cover that pits him against "a wild beast... not a human being." When he desperately disguises himself as a shrub to ambush his foe, observant readers notice that a passing "lion" is his equally tired rival, going AWOL. Cali and Bloch (previously paired for I Can't Wait) establish an absurd waiting game worthy of Beckett. Bloch pairs pen-and-ink cartoons with collage elements like family photos, and gives readers a bird's-eye view from which to observe the men's similarities. The point will not be lost on readers. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This spare, bleak, thought-provoking "book about peace" begins before the title page with a question: "Look. Do you see two holes?" There they appear, on opposite pages, with a soldier in each. They are enemies. One of them is the narrator. Although hungry, he is afraid to light a cooking fire, fearing the enemy could sneak up on him and kill him. From the manual given him at the start of the war, he knows that the enemy is a brutal beast, yet he wonders about him as he endures. Finally, desperately, he crawls to the enemy's hole. He finds it empty, except for some family photographs that make him seem somehow more human. He also finds a manual much like his but making him the face of the enemy. He realizes that the enemy soldier must be in his hole. Tired of it all, wishing it to end, he writes a message, puts it in a bottle, and throws it. "I hope my bottle falls in his hole." So do we. Most pages depict the soldier, in sketchy black ink line drawings tinged with olive drab, down in a small hole on blank white pages. On one striking double page the stars at night spread across the pages on dark gray over the black ground. On the front end pages rows of sketchy soldiers march across; on the back two soldiers have dropped out of the lines, perhaps the two in the story. Under the jacket, which has a soldier marching on the front with a smile, offering a touch of color with a flower in his mouth, is a serious cover of textured camouflage cloth. Young readers may need adult help to appreciate this book. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Kirkus Reviews
War demands an enemy: Two khaki-clad soldiers peer out of holes, torn through the page as if by bullets. They are separated by a large expanse of white on either side of the gutter. One soldier defends his position: "The enemy is there but I have never seen him. Every morning, I shoot at him. Then he shoots at me." They are both hungry and exhausted. But the other deserves to be. He is a beast. At least that is what the war manual says. Yet neither makes the first move. They wait, in an endless stalemate. Finally, one soldier sneaks out at night, ready to attack. But so does the other, and instead, they swap places. The enemy's foxhole is exactly the same. Why are they fighting? They don't know. Cali and Bloch break war down to its smallest-human-component. The powerful text and loose ink drawings are as spare as the foxholes they portray and leaven the weighty subject with an accessible irony. Though too metaphorical for the very young, middle-grade readers may well tuck away a small piece of this book to save for the future. (Picture book. 8-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375845000
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
04/14/2009
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Davide Cali is the author of 12 illustrated books for adults and children, including I Can’t Wait (illustrated by Serge Bloch), which was an ALA Batchelder Honor Book and also received France’s Baobab Award for Best Children’s Book of the Year. He lives in Genoa, Italy.

Serge Bloch is an artist whose work appears regularly in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, He recently received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, the ALA Batchelder Honor Award, and France’s Baobab Award for the book he created with Davide Cali, I Can’t Wait. He lives in New York, New York.

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