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WE by Alice Schertle


by Alice Schertle & illustrated by Kenneth Addison

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: May 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-58430-060-1
Publisher: Lee & Low

Schertle gives her panoramic, free-verse view of the human story an ominous tone by placing it all in the past tense. Spreading out from an African river valley, “We walked upright / out of the valley across the savanna / up over mountains...then over time’s long passage, went on to build boats and roads, make prayers and war, explore the ocean’s bottom and our own biology.” Addison (who died in 2005, while working on these illustrations) incorporated paint and clipped photos into kaleidoscopic impressions of pre-human and human figures from various world cultures engaged in the business of daily life; the visual sequences aren’t always chronological, but do express a vibrant general optimism. In the end, though “some of us / returned to the water-carved canyon / to find our bones,” our contact with the natural world, “the river running slow and cool / and the African wind in our hair,” has been forgotten. The cautionary thread running through this may be too subtle for most children to catch, but it could spark discussions about where we’ve been and where we’re going. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)