What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows? True Stories of Imagination and Courage

Heather Camlot, illus. by Serge Bloch. Owlkids, $18.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-77147-362-0
This salute to people who exemplify peace and reconciliation begins each story with a question. The titular query describes the story of medic Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor; “What if words of war became a war of words?” describes the evolution of PEN International, the literary and advocacy organization that fights for persecuted writers. In her introduction, Camlot (Clutch) argues that selfless drive of these subjects is motivated by a powerful, relentless imagination—“daring us to picture the world as we’d like it to be”—and the determination to “turn it into action.” Her brisk reportorial style is refreshingly straightforward; the story of how U.S.-China relations defrosted thanks to an accidental encounter between ping-pong players Glenn Cowan and Zhuang Zedong, for example, is easy to access and helpfully contextualized. Bloch’s (I Voted) customary playfulness, balletic line, and splashes of color and texture deliver, with images that range from soldiers decorating a battlefield with paints to a family on a seesaw catapulting an authoritarian figure into the air. A final question encourages reader engagement: “What if you could change the world?” Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/23/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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