cover image The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule

Ilene Cooper, , illus. by Gabi Swiatowska. . Abrams, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-0960-1

Visually energetic paintings and a reassuring story fortify Cooper's (Jewish Holidays All Year Round ) assertion (in an author's note) that the Golden Rule is an "underlying moral principle found in almost every religion and culture." A boy and his grandfather observe the phrase "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" on a billboard and begin to discuss the meaning of the words. By turns philosophical and literal, the grandfather explains that the rule is simple but not easy, that it holds true for children as well as adults, and that at its core the rule is "golden because it's so valuable, and a way of living your life that's so simple, it shines." Woven into this intergenerational exchange, Cooper offers interpretations of how the rule is stated in the holy books of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and other major religions. As complement, Swiatowska (My Name Is Yoon ) serves up elegant, textured imagery from each religion and warm portraits of grandfather and grandson in her arresting illustrations. Though the text slightly devolves into didacticism when the boy and his grandfather discuss putting the rule into practice, many readers will appreciate the otherwise straightforward tone and universality of the material, and may well ponder the book's message. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)