Monday, 23 February 2015

War: a children's book by Zachary Gallant

War: a children's book by Zachary Gallant; illustrated by Jenna Frome

This is not a usual review as this book isn't in the shops, or even published yet in traditional form, but you can read the full text online here

Zachary contacted me via this blog to describe his vision for this book and  the Kickstarter programme that he and Jenna have organised to try and get their project "up and running".  

The Kick-starter page describes it as "A beautifully illustrated rhyming book explaining to children the root causes of war, and their role in preventing future wars". It includes details of how the project came about (under Story), lists of rewards for pledges and more info about Zachary and Jenna

You can also read an interview with Zachary on the NonProphet Status blog here (and there's an address at the end if you want to tweet questions to him.) 

Many of the books I've reviewed on my blog are novels set in war time, but there are a few (for example, The general by Janet Charters, illustrated by Michael Foreman) that take a more general, perhaps allegorical look at why wars start, and Zachary's book is more like that. There's a very thoughtful response to it on this blog, which talks about how difficult it can be for children at various ages to grasp abstract concepts, and asks how children might relate to the text, and Zachary says on the Kickstarter page that they are still working with teachers and psychologists to improve the text's readability and rhymes.   

I especially liked Zachary's reply to the question asking what he would like his own child to learn from the book: 

My decision to start this project really came from the knowledge that I was having a kid. After about four years of rolling the question of how to explain war to a kid around in my head, the whole context changed when it became personal: How will I explain war, the subject in which I’ve immersed myself for most of my short professional life, to my own child when he asks?

What I really want my son to learn from this book is the value of empathy and of critical thinking. I want him to learn that he has no true eternal enemies, and that there are no innately bad people, and certainly no such thing as an entirely evil religion or country or ethnicity or race.

Update: Zachary has emailed me to say that the book is now available here. He is currently working with German and Kurdish translators and a Tunisian illustrator to put out a second edition framing the story within the refugee crisis.

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