Twenty years after its original issue, this expanded version of Herbert’s pervasive catchphrase gets a fresh go-round with newly colored illustrations.
The titular phrase is embedded in a free-verse argument that goes like this: The world is stuck in a cycle of “senseless violence” because “[a]nything we do randomly / and frequently / Starts to make its own sense.” But the power we have already retaken (did we but realize it) from our “confused” leaders allows us to engage at will in senseless acts that affirm life rather than destroy it, helping to “make new earth grow / beneath our feet.” In a valiant effort to make all of this approachable for children, Oda, inspired by a renowned 12th-century Japanese scroll, offers brushy ink-and-watercolor depictions of cats, frogs and other creatures. They either attack one another with guns and missiles beneath gouts of flame or frolic together in idyllic natural settings. The art was likewise created on a scroll, and in codex format, the transition between images is sometimes unsettlingly abrupt.
The big idea is worth pondering, but it’s presented in such abstract terms that younger readers may struggle to grasp it. (foreword by Desmond Tutu). (Picture book. 8-10, adult)