What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage by Heather Camlot, illustrated by Serge Bloch

What If Soldiers Fought with Pillows?: True Stories of Imagination and Courage by Heather Camlot, illustrated by Serge Bloch. Owlkids, 9781771473620, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

What did you like about the book?  This book is in a question and answer format that can be read from any page. Each page tells about an unknown hero who helped solve big problems with imaginative and creative solutions. Many of the questions at first seem silly and impossible, like “What if rocket launchers fired ping-pong balls instead of ballistic missiles?” or “What if innocent civilians could be airlifted by music?” Throughout the answers, readers learn how art, music, dance, clowns, leftover food, and sports games have peacefully helped solve problems around the world. Though other ways of solving problems are celebrated, this is not an anti-military book, and some soldiers who acted in less traditional ways are included. I really like how many unknown common people are celebrated in this book as courageous heroes, expanding on who a hero can be. Simple illustrations with just a few colors add humor to each page. This is a very positive and hopeful book that is likely to inspire readers to think about how they can change the world. 

Anything you did not like about the book. The complexity of these conflicts is overlooked, and it may seem to some readers that many complex global problems can be solved very easily. I wish there was more information at the end for readers to learn more about these heroes and their stories. (Selected Sources are included, but many seem more geared toward adult readers than children.) 

To whom would you recommend this book? This would be great for a teacher to use with history lessons, to inspire kids to think creatively about big questions, or in preparation for a social justice project. I would also recommend it to pacifist religious educators working with children. Some readers who enjoy reading about military heroes will enjoy this as well (though if they are more interested in the weapons, then not so much). I would recommend it to older elementary readers, since there is some discussion of war and violence, though not specific details or graphic descriptions.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school librarians, public librarians, educators

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction (300s)

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Sarah Bickel, Greenlodge Elementary School, Dedham Massachusetts

Date of review: Dec. 21, 2020

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