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A parable of war for young readers—and old ones, too.
Six men search for a place to live and work in peace. When they find the perfect spot, they settle down and soon prosper. But with the riches also comes worry. What if someone tries to steal their wealth? So they hire six soldiers to stand guard. But those soldiers grow lazy, because no one ever attacks. The six men, wanting the soldiers to earn their keep, order them to capture the neighboring farm. Thus begins a string of battles, fueled by greed and started over nothing. The final clash, spurred by two opposing soldiers shooting at a duck, not even each other, depicts streams of arrows flying high from both directions arching across the page, equal in number, equal in defeat. All that is left are six men on both sides, who trudge wearily away, searching for a place to live and work in peace. McKee, no stranger to teaching tolerance (The Conquerors, 2004, etc.) admirably believes in young readers' abilities to grasp large concepts. Of all the many things that war may be—foolish, necessary, patterned—misperception is almost always at the core.
Truly a worthwhile lesson for adults and kids alike. (Picture book. 7-10)