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The Conquerors

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A story about war and conquering nations from the creator of Not Now Bernard, and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

There was once a powerful country that was ruled by a General who decided to conquer all his neighbours. This plan worked until there was just one small, jovial country left. When the soldiers went there to subjugate the people, they were persuaded out of their uniforms, into the taverns, and onto the dance floors. It didn’t matter how many times the soldiers were sent...

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Chronicle Books, 2004. Hardcover First US Edition,First Printing. Fine/Fine. Brand new book, crisp and clean. Gift quality. NO REMAINDER MARK!! NO INTERNATIONAL, PRIORITY or ... COMBINED shipping for this item. Read more Show Less

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Overview

A story about war and conquering nations from the creator of Not Now Bernard, and Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

There was once a powerful country that was ruled by a General who decided to conquer all his neighbours. This plan worked until there was just one small, jovial country left. When the soldiers went there to subjugate the people, they were persuaded out of their uniforms, into the taverns, and onto the dance floors. It didn’t matter how many times the soldiers were sent back home and replaced with new recruits, it was always the same story, and the returning military played the music of the conquered nation. Just who has conquered whom?

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: 9781593540784
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Pages: 25
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.50 (h) x 0.25 (d)

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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