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David M. McPhail, . . Roaring Brook, $16.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-288-8

In this dark, nearly wordless allegory, the power of a single word ripples outward, stopping a bully, an army, a war. As a small boy walks along a row of houses, a squadron of warplanes bombs buildings in the distance, a tank blows up one house and soldiers force their way into another, terrifying a family. The boy continues down the street, off to mail a letter (the final spread reveals its contents: “Dear President, At my school we have rules . NO pushing NO punching. Do you have any rules?”). But when an older boy threatens him, the boy's sense of justice crystallizes in an instant, and he yells, “NO!” His act of resistance sparks immediate change: the bully has a change of heart, soldiers bring the family presents and a bicycle for the boy and the bully parachutes down from one of the bombers. McPhail's (When Sheep Sleep ) delicately tinted crosshatching gives poignancy to the violence the boy witnesses without minimizing it. The idea of taking effective action without fighting is a powerful one, and children and adults alike will find that McPhail's images linger. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)