Voice from Afar: Poems of Peace

Overview

The poems in this timely collection present haunting images of war and peace. Set all over the world, these lyric snapshots show the effects of war on ordinary people, as well as the hope that marks their journey to survive. Full of sweeping, vivid color and emotion, Susan Guevara's accompanying acrylic paintings astonish, move, and provide a fascinating tribute to Tony Johnston's call for peace.

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Overview

The poems in this timely collection present haunting images of war and peace. Set all over the world, these lyric snapshots show the effects of war on ordinary people, as well as the hope that marks their journey to survive. Full of sweeping, vivid color and emotion, Susan Guevara's accompanying acrylic paintings astonish, move, and provide a fascinating tribute to Tony Johnston's call for peace.

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Editorial Reviews

Kristi Jemtegaard
Tony Johnston's visceral images are set against Susan Guevara's dream-like paintings in which figures emerge and recede in a haze of dust and smoke. Given the vivid subject matter, the style serves as a welcome scrim between readers and reality, allowing the power of the poems to take center stage.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Guevara's (Chato's Kitchen) gentle acrylics temper 26 poems about war by Johnston (P Is for Piñata, reviewed above), whose imagery pulls no punches. Many of her poems are set squarely in the middle of combat, addressing victims ("Child on the other side of the world.../ I am calling") or describing their surroundings. The poet sharply invokes the products of war: poverty (of a dog: "His ribs are the slats of a small ark"), violence ("The body remains,/ crumpled in the street") and grief. Guevara, painting on rough canvas, declines to show the most frightening scenes. Instead of the child on the other side of the world "in your little torn shirt," she paints a small girl clinging to the back of a flying dove; instead of the crumpled body, she paints an angel. Quick brushstrokes and pastel shades soften the blow, and the images register as memories or dreams. The final poems pray for peace, but Johnston's sobering portraits make forgiveness unexpectedly difficult to imagine. Ages 10-up. (Dec.)

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School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Johnston offers thoughtful responses to war's senseless violence. Her free-verse word pictures call to mind scenes of terrible devastation: bodies lying crumpled in the street and homeless dogs "nosing along barren streets/for tidbits never found." Lives are wiped away in an instant when a bus explodes, homes and lives are shattered, yet Johnston finds cause for hope amid the grimness. A mother bravely tends a wounded soldier, a rosebush clings to life through drought and war, and a soccer game brings a respite: "The soldier's face remembers/it has a smile." Johnston adds her own voice, the sympathetic observer from afar, sending prayers for peace. Guevara's paintings, crafted with acrylic and oil paint with collage on textured canvas, feature subdued, neutral colors and haunting images, such as the poignant cover painting of a small girl clinging to the back of a dove. Through prayers and healing words, Johnston hopes that a new landscape can be woven: "A world/with peaks of kindness,/orchards branched with good,/rivers swollen with peace." Teachers will appreciate this measured response to the subject.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823420124
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2008
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tony Johnston is an award-winning author who has written more than eighty books for children, including A Kenya Christmas illustrated by Leonard Jenkins. Her experiences and travels around the world have found many expressions in her work. She lives in California.

Susan Guevara is the illustrator of several books for children, including The Lady in the Blue Cloak: Legends from the Texas Missions by Eric A. Kimmel and Chato and the Party Animals by Gary Soto, a Pura Belpré Award Winner for Illustration. A native Californian, she now lives in New Mexico.

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