It is difficult to teach the concept of peace, especially through words alone. Wisely, Halperin buttresses her words visually.
Halperin pulls readers in by letting them create their own stories. In the first half, when the narrator explains what must be done (“For there to be peace in nations, / there must be peace in cities”), small, detailed vignettes show people around the world in trying circumstances. Readers see anger, loneliness, bullying and more. But when the structure switches and works its way from the microcosm back out (“There will be peace in our cities / when there is peace in our nations”), readers can find resolutions to all the problems of the previous pages. Halperin invites children to pore over the colored-pencil drawings, carefully inspecting each miniature storyline to imagine what happens. In the first nations/cities spread, for example, one vignette depicts an old man with a cane walking past a full bench on a subway car; in the second, a boy has stood to give him his seat. Quotes from noted peacemakers wind in ribbons around the vignettes. The center spread, which declares the ever-earnest advice that peace must start in our hearts, includes drawings from actual children—all of which hopefully inspire readers that they can make a difference, no matter how small.
Soft-spoken, yet powerful; Halperin not only tells, she makes readers think, which is the best way to learn. (Picture book. 5-8)