This compelling collection of free-verse poetry is a stirring testament to children's ability to rise above horrific circumstances. When papa comes home, broken and battered from the war, the children hug him and look forward to days of peace and rest. When sirens pierce the air, the children run to the bomb shelter. They dream of a time of freedom and happiness; a time when there will be no more wars, no more fear, no more hatred. The children in this book inspire mankind to put down the weapons of war and take up the gifts of music, laughter, and friendship. The full-page illustrations, rendered in mixed media collage, capture the emotions that children around the world experience in times of war: fear, sadness, and hope for a better tomorrow. Selections from the book could be recited for a Memorial Day program. An excellent read aloud. Useful for generating discussions about war, peace, grief, loss, etc. An author's note provides expanded information about historical periods and events featured in the book.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Combining 17 rhythmic poems with dramatic illustrations, this title addresses a complex topic. Greenfield's deceptively simple verses express universal truths about both conflict and childhood. The introductory piece, "I Think I Know," offers an innocent explanation of the causes of war, much like a playground scuffle. Other selections highlight moments such as a parade of battle-ready warriors in ancient Egypt, a shell-shocked father's return from the American Revolution, and a young artist who tries to hold onto dreams despite the effects of combat in Iraq. The final poem summarizes the book's message: "We are surrounded by love,/taking us through/the danger days-.We are the children-still." Gilchrist's artwork captures the intensity of the verses, depicting conflicts from different historical periods and locations, as well as typical childhood pursuits. The spreads employ a combination of line-and-wash paintings, charcoal sketches, and photographs, and the use of collage underscores the sense of war's effects being superimposed on a youngster's world. This special book, which needs to be introduced and placed in context by an adult, makes a great starting point for discussion.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Anxiety and resilience are the major themes twining through both Greenfield's free-verse testimonials and Gilchrist's impressionistic collages. Using Langston Hughes's "Hold Fast To Dreams" as her touchstone, the poet takes the voice of children through the ages: wishing that "Warriors" would only march in parades; sharing both fright and laughter with "A Child Like Me" on the other side of the world; waiting for "Papa," a veteran whose mind is still on the battlefield, to come all the way back home; pretending that the soldiers riding by are off to some rescue or other constructive task; finding joy in toys and music-"Still, we play. / Our toys take us / to happy places." Gilchrist blends paint and reworked photos into kaleidoscopic arrays of children's faces, snatches of historical detail and streams of mixed colors; the effect is panoramic, and ties the poems, which are not specific, to particular cultures or conflicts. Ending on a reassuring note-"We give to the world, / still, / our wonder, our wisdom, / our laughter, our hope"-this gathering keeps the violence mostly off-stage, while providing several sad but hopeful ways to relate its hard reality. (afterword) (Poetry. 7-10)