The Conquerors

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The general of a large and mighty country invades and conquers each of its neighboring countries, one by one. Eventually, all the countries in the world are conquered but oneand that one is so small it doesn't not even have an army. And so, of course, when the day comes that the general is unable to resist invading the small country, the outcome is inevitable. Or is it?

David McKee's profound story and delightful childlike pictures send a ...

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Overview

The general of a large and mighty country invades and conquers each of its neighboring countries, one by one. Eventually, all the countries in the world are conquered but oneand that one is so small it doesn't not even have an army. And so, of course, when the day comes that the general is unable to resist invading the small country, the outcome is inevitable. Or is it?

David McKee's profound story and delightful childlike pictures send a special message that is all the more effective for framing a quiet plea for peace.

The general of a large country conquers other lands "so they can be like us," but discovers that the last small country he invades seems to influence his own instead.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this provocative parable of domination, illustrated in an unaggressive ink line and mild colors, a General leads his army against less powerful countries. " `It's for their own good,' he said. `So they can be like us.' " Blonde women and girls, and red-capped men and boys, wave farewell to the red-and-blue uniformed conquerors as they parade to battle. (The General dresses like Napoleon and the soldiers wear the kepis of gendarmes.) At last, just one tiny country remains, and its people "offered no resistance. Instead, [they] greeted the soldiers as if they were welcome guests." Peasants-including women wearing Muslim headscarves and robes-joke, sing and eat with the invaders. The soldiers join in and help them with their chores. Later, civilians in the General's country begin trying new recipes and playing borrowed games. At night, to his son, the General sings "the only songs he could remember. The songs of the little country... he had conquered." British author-illustrator McKee (the Elmer series) suggests that violent "conquerors" might be combatted in unconventional ways, and his message of nonviolent resistance echoes Gandhi's. Yet the book raises troubling questions: Were those who resisted by force wiped out, their traditions erased? Is smiling, cooperative assimilation the only resort for unarmed dissenters in an Empire? McKee's galvanizing tale makes a good companion to Marsden and Tan's The Rabbits, a powerful statement from the perspective of the colonized. Ages 4-8. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-A General, who rules a large country where the people believe that "their way of life [is] the best," conquers nearby nations "So they can be like us." When he and his army finally invade the only realm not under his dominion, its citizens offer no resistance. Instead, they welcome the soldiers. When fresh forces are sent in, they, too, become completely acculturated. Food and customs wend their way back to the General's land, while he remains oblivious to the ways in which he and his people have been enriched by their contact with their neighbors. Executed in oil pastels, McKee's cartoon illustrations show troops dressed in red and blue marching in lockstep behind their leader in his Napoleon-like hat, drooping mustache, and gold epaulets. In a comical spread, one group of soldiers ordered home from the small country meanders along the top of the pages, laughing and talking, while their replacements march in strict formation below. Readers will not fail to note how ridiculous the General and his army appear during their homecoming parade as they erroneously chant, "We are the conquerors." The title's irony and the futility of war are evident in this modern fable. Pair it with Mem Fox's Feathers and Fools (Harcourt, 1996) to spark a lively discussion.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a naive but thought-provoking episode, the residents of a small country give an invading general and his armies such a warm welcome that the soldiers are all soon blending in, enjoying the local food, singing the local songs, even helping with chores. Furious, the general sends that army home, and marches in another one-and not only are the results the same, but when he at last returns home, his own previously conformist people are playing new games, singing new songs, and eating different food. So who conquered whom? Illustrated with big, simple, colorful scenes featuring plenty of smiling faces, and troops in rather Gallic uniforms, this brief tale makes a worthy new entry in the "waging peace" genre. (Picture book. 6-8)
From the Publisher

"Readers will not fail to note how ridiculous the General and his army appear during their homecoming parade as they erroneously chant, "We are the conquerors." The title's irony and the futility of war are evident in this modern fable."  —School Library Journal

"The simple presentation of this serious theme makes a fine conversation opener."  —Horn Book

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781842703304
  • Publisher: Random House UK
  • Publication date: 4/27/2004
  • Pages: 32

Meet the Author

David McKee has written over thirty books for young readers, including the well-loved series about Elmer, the elephant. He is extremely proud to have been described as a "master of the modern fable," a particularly apt description of The Conquerors. Born

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