Six Men


Six men have the power to choose between war and peace.

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Six men have the power to choose between war and peace.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...this book is a visual delight." School Library Journal praises Elmer and the Hippos
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
"Once upon a time" six men search for and finally find a land where they can settle down and grow rich. But they fear thieves, so they hire six strong guards. When no robbers arrive, the men worry that paying the guards is a waste of money. So they put them to work capturing a neighboring farm. Enjoying the power, they add soldiers and capture more land. Some, who escape their expansion, work and live happily together across the river, but still worry about the six belligerent men. So in case of attack, they take turns being both farmers and soldiers. Unfortunately one day the bored soldiers on both sides of the river shoot at a passing duck. The anxious armies, fearing they are attacked, gather and a mighty battle begins. In the end, only six men on either side are left. And so they set off in opposite directions, beginning again the search for a place to live and work in peace. This moral tale is starkly told in economically succinct language and black line drawings of the characters. McKee effectively uses masses of stick figures to represent the warfare and the flights of arrows from both sides. There are no villages, women, or children represented. Although these pages have an almost comic, superficial appearance, the final scene of the men slouching away, reflecting that of the original six on the jacket, returns our emotions to the tragedy of the tale. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—As he did with The Conquerors (Handprint, 2004), McKee makes a political statement. The six men of the title are looking for "a place where they might live and work in peace." Although they find it, their new wealth brings worries. They hire soldiers to guard their property and eventually to attack their neighbors. The neighbors escape to the other side of the river and build their own army. Eventually, after each army shoots an arrow at a passing duck, both assume they are being attacked and a battle ensues. Everyone is killed, except for "six men from each side, who…started to travel the world searching for a place where they might live and work in peace." Cartoonlike black line drawings, some heavily detailed, some spare, illustrate the text. The causes of war in this story are so oversimplified that the explanation is perhaps condescending, even to young children. Better allegories, such as Eve Bunting's Terrible Things (Jewish Pub. Society, 1989), abound.—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

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)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735840560
  • Publisher: NorthSouth (NY)
  • Publication date: 6/28/2011

Meet the Author

David McKee is the creator of the enormously successful Elmer books.  His books have been published around the world and produced for television.  He lives in England.

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