War by José Jorge Letria, illustrated by André Letria

War by José Jorge Letria, illustrated by André Letria. Greystone Books, 2021. 9781771647267

Rating : 3.8

Genre : Poetry

What did you like? A good beginning for an examination and discussion of war through poetic text and illustrations. The blacks, grays and brownish yellows are a good match for the pages, each containing one line or less of text. There is an almost relentless movement forward left to right that serves the topic well. The first pages have snake- and spider-like images reaching forward, filling a solitary crow. As the crow flies forward, the crow’s shadow covers the land until it reaches the only illuminated figure in a large building of dark windows. A close look at the figure focuses on the uniformed chest without a head or legs; a closer look on the next page reveals a large map in front of the figure. The map flows left to right again.  Next there is a cupboard filled with more than a dozen “knight”-like helmets that appear to be choices. A helmet facing forward is followed by a heavy boot also facing forward. Dark multiples appear soon after the figure has put on the helmet and boots. Dark factories spewing smoke, dark planes, uniformed figures, and a conveyor belt filled with identical ghostly white heads still move forward. Only the bombs that are on the final pages move from top to bottom instead of right to left and what appears to be a pattern of fallen bodies form a direction-less space.

Anything you did not like?  Perhaps not accessible to children who aren’t at least in third grade. There is not a lot of material on this topic, but much of the material that does exist has a similar character and color scheme. Perhaps this is inevitable ? 

To whom would you recommend this book? Teachers and large public or school library collections

Where would you shelve it? Nonfiction: poetry

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not sure

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Stephanie Wolflink, retired Head of Children’s Services at the Winchester Public Library, MA

Date of review: January 4, 2022

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