Friday, September 19, 2008

"Though War is Old It has not Become Wise"

A new children's book caught my eye at the library the other day, and I brought it home. I had just finished reading it myself. I still had tears in my eyes as I was silently debating whether or not I should read it to the May Queen, when she spotted me with it.

What's that?

A book I got from the library.

Can I look at it?

Sure. Would you like me to read it to you?

Yeah! Let's sit on the couch and snuggle.

Well, I never turn down an invitation to snuggle, and so it was that I found myself curled up on the couch with The May Queen and a copy of Alice Walker's Why War is Never a Good Idea

I asked The May Queen if she knew what war was. She didn't. (Oh blessed not knowing what war is. Which is how it should be when you are not quite 6, I think). I explained in general terms about how war is when people fight... not like 2 people fighting, but countries and armies fighting each other and causing a lot of harm.

And then we read.

Though War has eyes
Of its own
& can see oil
&
Gas
& mahogany trees
& every shining thing
Under
The earth

When it comes
To nursing
Mothers
It is blind;
Milk, especially
Human,
It cannot
See

I had to speak of bombs, and poisons, and missiles. There was a moment of quiet after I closed the book, and then I repeated the title... and that's Why War is Never a Good Idea. After another moment of silence The May Queen asked to read another book, and we were off...

(edited to add: MQ asked to read the book at bedtime the next night. She asked WHY is war never a good idea and we talked a little bit more about war and how animals and people and the earth are hurt and afraid-- edited AGAIN: now it's been two nights in a row she's asked for it after the initial reading)

I don't know whether or not you'll want to read this book to your children, although it is certainly a wonderful starting point for a discussion. But I do know that you should read it and examine the illustrations for yourself.

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*the post title is another quote from the book

read an interesting interview about the book with author Alice Walker here

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on a lighter note: Monday's Mission is to write a post in the form of a badly written essay (inspired by Bea's post about the things that drive her nuts about the essays she has to read).

8 comments:

Sober Briquette said...

yes, we had that book over the summer; Fiona selected it (she just seems to grab stuff, though). One night she even chose it as the book she would read to her brother! I was worried that the illustrations would be scary, but they handled it. Ironically, dinosaurs are the source of more nightmares.

jen said...

i've never heard of this book but am off to order it now. thank you, woman.

Julie Pippert said...

Now I want to see that book, and to see if my kids might enjoy it.

I think right now we need a why bad things happen thoughtful exploration. I am not quite sure how to help them quantify and qualify why their lives have been so disrupted, so maybe this could do.

E said...

I am getting this book for me. I love Alice alker. And I loved this post. Thank you

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a powerful book. Alice Walker is one of my heroes.

MamaGeek said...

I've never heard of that specific book but I have heard of Alice Walker. Good recommendation for such a *hard* subject.

thirtysomething said...

Just the book I need to help my kids understand what is really going on. Thanks!

womaninawindow said...

Oh, methinks Maypole is wise. This book sounds incredible! Thank you!