A worthy look at peace.


Swords to Plowshares


Weaver (Praying with Our Feet, 2005) and Huston’s whimsically illustrated book has serious messages about peace and faith as they describe the unique history of a medal for peace.

This all-ages book explains how John P. Klassen created the Mennonite Central Committee Medallion, here told through the eyes of a fictional young boy named Isaak. In the 1920s, Isaak witnesses turmoil in what is now Ukraine, though he eventually sees violence transform into peace—sometimes literally. In the early 1900s, including during the Russian civil war that devastated many places and lives, Mennonite workers offered aid and farming supplies, operating as the unified Mennonite Central Committee after 1910. Seeing them do their work, Isaak helps Klassen—a real historical figure who later taught at Bluffton University, a Mennonite institution—create a way to honor their contributions. Isaak helps Klassen collect scattered bullets in the village, then melt them to create a lead medallion depicting an aid worker giving food to children. The medallion—of which one of the originals can be found at the Kauffman Museum in Kansas, with photos here—stands as a reminder that charity can be found in even the direst times. While touching on virtues of the Mennonites and the value of faith, the book doubles as an introduction for young readers to the history of the region and the healing power of art. It is sure to spark conversation in the classroom. Huston’s textured, colorful illustrations help make the narrative easy to follow for lap readers.

A worthy look at peace.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: The Lion and Lamb Peace Arts Center of Bluffton University

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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