Plant­i­ng Friend­ship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Cal­lie Metler, Melis­sa Stoller, Kate Tal­bot (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – May 11, 2022

An opti­mistic, hope­ful pic­ture book about increas­ing under­stand­ing, fos­ter­ing accep­tance, and being open to rela­tion­ships with those of dif­fer­ing back­grounds, Plant­i­ng Friend­ship is the sto­ry of three class­mates, one Chris­t­ian, one Jew­ish, and one Mus­lim, who learn to build bridges and expand their worlds. Each girl has a strong reli­gious back­ground of which she is proud; each has a sup­port­ive fam­i­ly who bol­sters her faith with­out instill­ing prej­u­dice or fear of others.

The teacher ini­ti­ates a class project; each girl plants a seed and tries to nur­ture the green plant that she hopes will con­tin­ue to grow. In spite of the care tak­en, the first attempts are unsuc­cess­ful. The girls decide to join forces and help one anoth­er on a sec­ond try. Each shares some fam­i­ly wis­dom, encour­ages the oth­ers, and, ulti­mate­ly, each basks in the oth­ers’ successes.

The plants are a metaphor for their grow­ing friend­ship and the shar­ing of their com­mon ideals. One girl uses the term peace, anoth­er the term salaam, and anoth­er the term shalom, but they all under­stand that peace and har­mo­ny tran­scend lan­guage and are goals they can all share, enrich­ing their indi­vid­ual lives as well as soci­ety as a whole.

Col­or illus­tra­tions por­tray three eth­ni­cal­ly dif­fer­ent-look­ing faces with sim­i­lar wide eyes through which the girls observe the world around them. The lush green­ery on the page sup­ports not only the sto­ry but also leaves the read­er with an image of a flour­ish­ing planet.

Three authors col­lab­o­rat­ed on the writ­ing of the sto­ry, one Chris­t­ian, one Mus­lim, and one Jew­ish, entwin­ing their joint par­tic­i­pa­tion with the theme of their sto­ry and pro­vid­ing a liv­ing exam­ple of coop­er­a­tion and understanding.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions