Peaceful Heroes

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The author of the highly-acclaimed FRIDA and DIZZY brings us a series of searing portraits of warriors who didn't use weapons, including Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, Gandhi, and more.

Why is "hero" is a word so often reserved for warriors who fight with guns and weapons to defend their people? Renowed picture book biographer Jonah Winter writes of another kind of hero, a peaceful hero, who is willing to die for a cause, but never to kill for a cause. From the ...

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The author of the highly-acclaimed FRIDA and DIZZY brings us a series of searing portraits of warriors who didn't use weapons, including Martin Luther King Jr., Sojourner Truth, Gandhi, and more.

Why is "hero" is a word so often reserved for warriors who fight with guns and weapons to defend their people? Renowed picture book biographer Jonah Winter writes of another kind of hero, a peaceful hero, who is willing to die for a cause, but never to kill for a cause. From the ultimate hero, Jesus of Nazareth, to the ordinary man who saved Rwanda, Paul Rusesabagina, Jonah Winter brings children a series of remarkable stories about the bravest people history has known. The searing text is illustrated with moving portraits from a brand new talent, Sean Addy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“We need a set of heroes who do not hurt people,” writes Winter (The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert & Sullivan) in his introduction to 14 short biographies of figures who have embraced nonviolence, each portrayed by Addy (Amelia to Zora: 26 Women Who Changed the World) in stirring, sepia-toned collages. Some are well-known (Martin Luther King Jr., Clara Barton), but many may be unfamiliar, like Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Pashtun activist who led nonviolent demonstrations against British colonial rule, and Rwandan Paul Rusesabagina, who saved more than 1,200 Tutsis from slaughter. In places, Winter sidesteps violence (Dr. King's assassination is not mentioned), but dark moments remain (in Khan's biography, “The soldiers shot down line after line of the demonstrators until they couldn't stand shooting anymore”). Winter handles religious content with care, but some problems defy simple treatment. The entry for Jesus of Nazareth acknowledges that some “believe he did not exist at all,” while arguing for his historical existence and reminding readers that nonviolence is the essence of Christianity. Still, as a signpost to a richer understanding of peace, the collection has genuine value. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
The introduction defines heroes as "warriors who fought to defend their people." Heroes for modern times are those who would "die for their cause, but they would not kill for their cause." Beginning with Jesus of Nazareth to Bill Feehan, a fireman killed at the World Trade Center, stories of fourteen heroes for peace are told. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, Clara Barton, and Corrie ten Boom are some that are well known. The founder of Amnesty International, Ginetta Sagan; Abdul Ghaffar Khan, a Muslim, who led peaceful demonstrations against British Rule in Pakistan; and Marla Ruzicka, a girl from California (1977-2005), who went to Iraq to give aid to those harmed by the war, are lesser known. Stylized portraits along with symbolic representations of their notable actions appear on tan paper accompanying the text. This book is a call for all of us to seek peaceful solutions. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—The eclectic group of people featured here includes figures from the distant past (Jesus of Nazareth) as well as contemporary people (Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi). Some, like Martin Luther King, Jr. are famous, while others, such as Abdul Ghaffar Khan, are obscure. These diverse individuals are united thematically in that each chose a path in life to help others through nonviolent means, often at great personal risk, and often paying the ultimate price. These are important and inspirational figures, but the book is heavily message-driven, with Winter often oversimplifying or offering opinions as facts. When speaking of Sojourner Truth, he states that she preached "what she knew to be the truth against slavery and the racism that caused slavery to happen." Many other factors also led to the rise of slavery in the U.S. Stating that "most people in other countries think that America has done more harm than good in Iraq" is not backed up by any references to respected reporting agencies. In fact, no sources are supplied for any of the information or thoughts and feelings attributed to these people. The book's design also contributes to the heavy-handed approach, with words such as "sacrifice" and "risk" appearing in an inch-tall font at the top or bottom of the pages. Addy's oil and collage paintings have a burnished look to them, and would have been even more powerful without the distracting lettering. This is a well-intentioned volume, but it fails when it comes to the "show, don't tell" principle of good writing.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Atop Addy's powerful oil-and-collage portraits heightened with passionate swirls of brushwork, Winter pays fervent tribute to 14 nonviolent crusaders. Beginning with the Big Three-Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.-but then going on to the lesser-known likes of Pashtun leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan, El Salvador's Oscar Romero and Afghani activist Meena Keshwar Kamal, he briefly describes the condition, cause or organization with which each designated hero is most closely associated and highlights some of their acts. He tends to avoid their (often violent) deaths and on occasion delivers debatable generalizations-until Jesus, for example, "everyone thought you were supposed to hate and fight your enemies"-but young readers in need of role models will be hard put to find more courageous, selfless examples than this roster offers. A good complement to Anne Sibley O'Brien and Perry Edmond O'Brien's After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance (2009). (Collective biography. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439623070
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 703,072
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.32 (w) x 10.28 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonah Winter has written many exciting picture book biographies for children, with subjects that include Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Barack Obama, and Dizzy Gillespie. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 16, 2010

    Should be in every school library.

    Nice to see a message of peace.

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