Thursday, April 26, 2007


"Never has there been a good war or a bad peace. " - Benjamin Franklin

Is there any reason for a war/battle? As the war drags on, does any one remember why the whole battle started? At the end, only devastation remains. There would probably be victors, but what is the price? Or is there ever a victor? Is there any sense in a war?

All these are big questions. Something that one would not want our children to know about. Do we want our children to know about war and violence? At what age do we tell them about war and violence. Nikolai Popov thinks it is never too early to talk about violence and war with children. He talks about the senselessness of a war in simple and understandable format of a wordless book called Why?

In a very peaceful environment; a buttoned up frog is sitting peacefully on a rock and enjoying the pleasant evening(or morning) with beautiful flower in its hand. Very soon, a rodent digs out a nearby hole with an umbrella and for no reason attacks the frog. The frog is crestfallen, but, it has a few buddies around and they gang up and attack the rodent. The rodent flees leaving the yellow umbrella. The frogs use the yellow umbrella to pick up flower and enjoy among themselves. Soon, the rodent is back with its own friends and launches a fresh attack on the frogs. Soon, every one joins together and there is a big war in progress. For absolutely no reason, the frogs and rodents keep bashing each other up. The final page shows the first frog with the torn umbrella and the rodent with a completely smashed flower in hand. Both look crestfallen and seem to wonder why the whole incident happened?

All the illustrations are in green water colour initially to depict the greenery and peace and slowly the colours change as we scroll through the various pages. By the end, the whole page is brownish depicting the ravages and destruction of the war. There is no bloodshed, the illustrations emote the dreadfulness and senselessness of the violence very well.

It is an extremely loaded picture book. It is probably a good gift for all adults and kids of all ages. I am not sure if kids might be able understand the depth of the tale, but, it would probably stay in their mind. Sooraj and I went through this book once or twice. But, he did not seem to enjoy it that much - atleast there were no visible signs. I have a feeling he might enjoy it and appreciate more as he grows older.

"An eye for an eye makes the entire world blind" - M K Gandhi


Praba Ram said...

Sathish -

I am speechless - rather wordless...I am afraid anything I write here as a comment might sound so meaningless and shallow in light of the book you've reviewed!

A sure pick...


Tharini said...

I know I'LL want to experience this book. Thank you for this beautiful pick. Incidentally, that is one of my favorite quotes of Mahatma Gandhi.

Sheela said...

thank you for sharing this book - loaded indeed. how do we introduce such harsh realities of life in this world to a child? if possible, don't we all want to shelter our little ones forever from harm? and when do want to start talking to them about it, am glad you pointed us to a wonderful book.

Anonymous said...

What a ridiculous concept. "Why?" Why, indeed. If the damn mouse hadn't stolen the flower in the first place, none of it would have happened. What was the frog supposed to do? Let the mouse keep it?

What a great message for kids: don't ever stand up for or protect yourself or your property, because we might ruin the prairie! It worked great for the Jews in Poland, right?

Sriram said...

I think you are taking the story little too literally. The big picture is that war should be avoided if at all possible, since everyone loses to some extent. I don't think anyone is expected to be a silent spectator when you are being exploited.

Kids have a tough time distinguishing right from wrong and self-preservation is paramount for them. If your kid took something from another kid, do you want your kid to be hit? At least, from that perspective this can be helpful.

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