November 01, 2016

What is Peace?

Text and illustrations by Wallace Edwards
North Winds Press/Scholastic Canada
32 pp.
Ages 4-10
November 2016

If you’re seeing the red felt poppy pins on coats, you’ll be starting to think about Remembrance Day and war and peace.  The concept of peace is a prodigious one.  Imagine attemping to encompass all aspects of peace in a single book, especially a picture book?  Fortunately, with Wallace Edwards at the helm of that undertaking, and the use of his glorious illustrations and a multitude of questions to guide this reflective discussion of peace, enlightenment is on the horizon.

Each double spread has one page of text–a series of questions, culminating with a final line “What is peace?”–and a full page illustration.  From a bird on a cherry blossom branch with accompanying questions on the temporal and spatial nature of peace–old, new, near, far– there follows a range of quiet and evocative illustrations and questions about peace’s inclusivity, its study, its sensory nature, as well as expressions and attributes of peace.  Wallace Edwards covers all nature of peace without ever defining what it is, relating to this in the appending text titled “What Do You See?” (pg. 30), in which he admits that there are no right or wrong answers.

From What is Peace? by Wallace Edwards

In the preface to the book, Wallace Edwards discusses how, after being asked to do a series of paintings on the theme of peace, he found it himself meditating on the question that is the title.  And after recognizing how big a question it is, Wallace Edwards hopes that the book “inspires you to think and talk and maybe draw or write or sing about what peace means to you and the other creatures who share this world.” (pg. 3) Ever thoughtful, Wallace Edwards inspires with his words and artwork of all nature of creature and substance: mandrill, luna moth, zebra, crumbling wall, rhinos, and the ubiquitous white bird evident on every illustration.

By recognizing the distinctiveness of peace and a commonality to it as well, Wallace Edwards has shown us the way that is peace without actually driving his own definition of it onto the reader.  What is Peace? is an eloquent discussion starter and contemplative tome for a month of remembrance and loss and hope.

From What is Peace? by Wallace Edwards

Look for my post tomorrow about the book launch for What is Peace? in Toronto this weekend.

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