An anti-war book for children or teens is automatically challenging. It is and should be a delicate and careful maneuver between commenting on a harsh reality and advocating peace. This fragile territory should be treated with extreme caution, sensitivity, and subtlety. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned book misses an opportunity to do so while recounting a difficult period in Israeli-Palestinian co-existence, Operation Protective Edge. It is a call for peace, for stopping hatred, prejudice, and violence. It tries to highlight the injured parties on both sides of the conflict with poetic words and illustrations, yet, in spite of its length, the book seems predictable and superficial. Even when writing for young people, there is a difference between simple and simplistic.
Ora Eitan’s illustrations are always wonderful but they are not completely appropriate here; they seem more targeted to the adult eye. They are perhaps too obscure and symbolic for a young person to understand. Inclusivity is meant to be the heart of this book. A Palestinian author and an Israeli illustrator working together speaks volumes and makes a wonderful point. The final product, however, still feels skewed to the Palestinian side of the story. This feeling is reinforced by reading the section entitled “The story behind the book” which seems to strive for equality but still leaves the readers feeling that the Palestinian cause deserves far more sympathy. A map that would not be accepted by all political persuasions is included. Perhaps a series of maps explaining why each would be accepted by the different groups would have been more educational.
This book is a beautiful literary work in many ways, but if it were better balanced, it could perhaps help achieve the goal of moving toward a greatly desired peace.
Written for ages 12 and up.