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Why War Is Never a Good Idea
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Why War Is Never a Good Idea

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Though War is Old

It has not

Become wise.

Poet and activist Alice Walker personifies the power and wanton devastation of war in this evocative poem.

Stefano Vitale’s compelling paintings illustrate this unflinching look at war’s destructive nature and unforeseen consequences.
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by HarperCollins (first published September 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 295)
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Taylor
Wow. Alice Walker packs a powerful, heart-wringing poem into a picture book. The artwork is amazing. The whole thing leaves you sitting, staring at the inside back cover, with tears in your eyes and your mind blown.

Every child should have a copy of this book. It should be as ubiquitous as Good Night Moon or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Likewise, every adult should read this book - and then re-read it often so that we can hang onto all the important reasons to work for Peace.
Anita
Read it and talk about it. . . with your peers, your children, your grandchildren.
Kyle
Oct 21, 2012 Kyle added it
The book I selected to read as a sample as poetry.

The book Why War is Never a Good Idea is a story told through poetry about how war affects all aspects of life. It talk about not only soldiers, but it gets into the idea that war affects animals, the land and environment, innocent people, even the water that people drink. Alice Walker who wrote The Color Purple, is the author of this book. It was interesting to hear a totally different genre of book than the novel she wrote. Though this is quite...more
Cara Byrne
Unlike the poetry for children by Morrison and Angelou, Walker’s book does not hold back. It’s a powerful, chilling text that is nightmarish and visually/poetically stunning. War is illustrated as a big, industrial entity that destroys all in its path, and does not see Mothers. In a very dark and frightening page, Walker writes: “Here War is Munching on A village Its missiles Taking chunks Big bites out Of it. War’s Leftover Gunk Seeps Like Saliva Into The Ground. It Is finding Its Way Into the...more
Devon
It was a strange book to read, for the entire book contained no punctuation marks and all of the sentences were broken up shortly over lines with each new line beginning with a capitalized word, regardless of the fact that the word was within the same sentence/thought. The illustrations were wonderful however, showing aspects of various cultures using vibrant colors, as it described war and how those who are affected by it do not see it coming, those including not just people but animals and nat...more
babyhippoface
Mar 16, 2008 babyhippoface rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
With lines like “You could die While Choking & Holding Your Nose,” this book gets my vote for "Picture Book Most Likely to Give Your Kid Nightmares."

I didn't like this book. At all. It felt like a piece of political propaganda disguised as a children's book. It looks like a picture book, but it reads like a depressing poem written by that the weird guy in my college poetry workshop who wore a skull t-shirt and army jacket and wrote about death and public urination. The guy whose poems made m...more
Judy Lindow
I'm tempted to rate the book higher, as I think a book on war would be a good way to start a discussion about what war is with kids, but frankly I just don't care for the poem or the illustrations much. They don't move me.

Kids need to know about war and other harsh realities - I don't have any issues with talking about war, animal abuse, climate change, and other difficult issues at school (and hopefully, families talk at home). I'm torn by the book however. The poem is a little abstract for kid...more
Rosebud
The title of this book caught my eye while searching for another book by Alice Walker. I didn't realize it was a children's book until Jim picked it up at the library for me. Obviously, it was a quick read, but such a brilliant way of teaching children that war is destructive and unforgiving.
Snorkle
I'm not sure I approve of this book being categorized as a children's book. While I don't think that children's books should always be cheery and silly, I don't think that they should cross the line and become frightening or haunting, which I thought this book was. I would not read this book out loud to a child, it is slightly depressing and one page of illustrations is especially scary. This book had an agenda to push and that was slightly annoying, because children won't get that. The illustra...more
Amy
I really can't say that this is a kids' book because it's quite scary & mature for kids. Maybe an adult audience who appreciates art would go for this? As a piece of art in illustration and in poetry, it's good. As a kids' book, it's scary. I wonder what people who have lived through a war think of it...Is it naive to think that war in NEVER a good idea, or is it necessary despite the destruction of life?

Also, it's an obvious anti-Iraq war statement. "Though War has eyes of its own & ca...more
Tracy Trofimencoff
This is very powerful. Walker creates a vivid image of war by humanizing it. The illustrations are excellent and so appealing. Excellent poem to discuss with children and adults.
Erica
"Poet and activist Alice Walker personifies the power and wanton devastation of war in this evocative poem." Why true Is never a Good Idea is a brilliantly simple poem. It depicts the destruction of war but relates it to a human scale. Stefano Vitale's illustrations are breathtakingly colorful until War begins encroaching on the peaceful villages. Vitale uses painting, collage and texture to juxtapose nature and War. School Library Journal included Why War is Never a Good Idea in its Best Books...more
Lin Lin
Apr 28, 2011 Lin Lin added it
Shelves: peace
This book helps me learn that peace should be the ultimate purpose of our's pursuit of happiness. War should not be the means to the end even when the end means liberty, freedom, and pursuit of happiness for some people. Everyone's life is just as precious as anyone else. If we still don't believe in this, war will continue under the pretext of fighting for freedom and liberty for some people. The destructive power of war in Alice Walker's book is greatly enhanced by Stefano Vitale, the illustra...more
Wendy
Real. Amazing art work. Beautifully written about the ugliness of war.
Christy Whitaker
While the story gets its point across that war is bad, I do not feel it is a good idea to use it as a teaching resource in early elementary education because of the morbid events. For example, the tire that is about to "squash the frogs flat" can paint a horrid picture in a child's mind. It also has inappropriate pictures (breasts) that inhibit the use of this book in a classroom. It does have a lot of interesting styles in writing. Unfortunately, due to other content, they could not be introduc...more
Evan
"Though War is old, it has not become wise. It will not hesitate to destroy things that do not belong to it, things very much older than itself." Somber picture book written by poet and activist Alice Walker. This book helps put into perspective, for children and adults, the far-reaching consequences and effects of war. The text is poetry, dark and viscous as it oozes from page to page. The illustrations are beautifully terrible, depicting war in a way that does not require blood or bodies.
Abby
I did not care very much for the text of the book, but the illustrations were wonderful, playing a lot with texture and symbolism. There was one illustration in particular that was fantastic. It was a surreal depiction of war as a billowing cloud of brown sludge and smoke; it rose up in a wave made of soldiers, cresting in the shape of a skull. This is a very cool illustration, and is (by its own merit) reason enough to take a peek at this book.
Rosie Harris
This book talks about things that are accidentally effected by war. I am not sure how I feel about this book. On the one hand it is good for children have an understanding of things like war, on the other hand, the way it is presented to children seems to trivialize the horrors of war. I might use this in my classroom if I needed to talk to my students about war but I would most likely find a different book.
Lisa
This book is not for the very young. I read to my 7-year-old and it was really too disturbing for bedtime. Photos were perhaps more disturbing than the words. I figured that out after reading it to him at bedtime. It ends very open-ended, which did lead to a great discussion about war in general, and what's going on in the world today, and his parents' opinions on the war.
Daniel
Alice Walker wrote a picture book about war. It was awesome. It wouldn't work for a storytime, but if a child came to me asking me about war, I would definitely put it in their hands. The art is exquisite and disturbing, which is as it should be considering the subject matter. Some of it reminds me of Henri Rousseau, other parts much more cnotemporary. Recommend!
Aubrey
This is a pretty amazing book, although I would recommend adults read it to children alongside an age-appropriate conversation on war/violence. Simple, but engaging prose about the negative affects of war on the earth and people. The art is fascinating and has a color scheme that coincides with peace/war: colorful & lush vs. colorless and dreary.
Annamaria
This beautifully illustrated (and a bit disturbing) book is a poem in disguise. The words from Alice Walker are spare yet powerful (what you might expect from her). Not a younger children's book, however; under 8 year-olds might find it disturbing. But it is worth a look at and considering it for inclusion in any collection. the title says it all.
Molly
This is a good introduction to the horrors of war, both with the text and perhaps even more so through the morphing illustrations. The book conveys the themes in a thought provoking but not scary way, which is, of course, important for a picture book! Fans of Walker's adult works may wish to share this with the young ones in their lives.
Kiersten
I think that this is an incredibly powerful and moving poem, which is why I gave it four stars. However, while the art is extremely versatile and interesting, I probably would not read it to a child because it would most likely frighten them. This would be interesting as a graphic novel for older children and teenagers.
Katherine Willis Pershey
I would give this five stars for adults, and one star for kids. It's a beautiful, sad, frightening poem, with beautiful, sad, frightening art. I don't know how I will eventually teach Juliette about war, but I wouldn't introduce this book to anyone under twelve. Or fifteen. Too graphic, too honest, too real.
Noah
Wait, this book is for kids? Besides the rather poor poetry (ampersands should NEVER be lines of poetry), the imagery and phrase-choice is a bit...disturbing. Maybe the author wanted to scare children into hiding under their beds and never going to war when they get older? Seems that way...
Amanda Fack
Alice Walker clearly and poetically reveals the true nature of war, especially the devastating aftermath on natural resources. Stefano Vitale's illustrations brightly portray each line.[return]Young readers beware: This book is dismal, frightening, and potentially disturbing.
Coco
Perhaps all books should be concise and illustrated like this. Perhaps all books should be written as if children were on the receiving end, which they inevitably are. Perhaps if more writers dared to tell children the truth, we would not be in the state that we are in.
Monika
I actually don't think this will make sense to a young child. I read it to my five year old and she was quiet confused about what it was trying to say. I think it is more of an adult book. It illustrates a very human, tragic view of war.
Emelda
Intense book for kids. The imagery is subtle and worded perfectly for children- still as intense as it's pictures. Don't quite get the ending, but it's late and probably a good ending all around. Leave you thinking about it for a bit.
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Alice Walker (b. 1944), one of the United States’ preeminent writers, is an award-winning author of novels, stories, essays, and poetry. In 1983, Walker became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction with her novel The Color Purple, which also won the National Book Award. Her other books include The Third Life of Grange Copeland, Meridian, The Temple of My Familiar, an...more
More about Alice Walker...
The Color Purple Possessing the Secret of Joy The Temple Of My Familiar In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose Meridian

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