The pointlessness of war, powerfully told despite having no words.
Two squat soldiers, one dressed in electric blue, the other in fluorescent orange, spy on each other from across a field by peering through their spyglasses. (Clever circle die cuts in the cover show readers exactly what each soldier sees through his lens.) The dumpy, little men sit, watch and wait. An incident involving a small snail escalates into a huge argument, but even then, they don’t attack. They just yell and shake their fists (black cartoon scribbles enliven the fury). Seasons pass, and snow and rain pour down, but still, the men watch and wait. Until one day a bird, half blue and half orange, finally forces them to come face to face. The two soldiers, Waterloo and Trafalgar, realize they are not as different as they thought. In an added twist, when the perspective pans out to show the full surroundings, readers gain a delightful, surprising insight. Tallec excels in expression; every movement, from scrunched-up anger to an exuberant grin, is meticulously planned, and these funny little soldiers show a wide range of emotion.
It is a truism that children represent the future—engaging stories about conflict resolution are necessary, and this one stands out. (Picture book. 5-10)