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The Enemy: A Book About Peace
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The Enemy: A Book About Peace

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  365 Ratings  ·  78 Reviews
In this moving picture book, award-winning collaborators Davide Cali and Serge Bloch present a fable for our time about two lonely soldiers facing each other across a barren battlefield. What each discovers, as the story unfolds, is that the enemy is not a faceless beast, but rather a real person with family, friends, and dreams.
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published April 14th 2009 by Schwartz & Wade Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Whitney Rachel
Jul 25, 2014 Whitney Rachel rated it it was amazing
This book is not for children. I repeat this book is not for children. It's guise is that of a children's picture book, but this book is to be read in a college seminar on peace studies. Cali and Bloch take the cycle of war and strip away all the politics and fluff to show us what is at the heart of war in its simplest form; soldiers fighting for a cause that has been lost in the ether.

The mixed media illustrations make this book a work of beauty to admire.

There's a lot more I want to say about
Nov 15, 2014 Nicole rated it liked it
Shelves: 520ya
This book is about 2 soldiers during World War I. It is set in trenches and talks about how each soldier believes his enemy is a monster, because it was told to them in their manual. The soldier continually talks about killing his enemy to end the war and the different hardships he is facing at this time. By the end, the soldier has snuck out of his hole and discovers his enemies is empty, except for pictures. It is a surprise to him to know that his enemy could possibly have a family.

The simpl
Carrie Charley Brown
Sep 02, 2014 Carrie Charley Brown rated it really liked it
This book is sure to evoke many personal opinions on whether it is appropriate for the traditional picture book aged crowd. For a parent, this would provide a wonderful springboard for war discussions. As an early elementary teacher, I would not be allowed to use this book in the classroom, with the frequent mention of killing. However, it would be an amazing tool for upper elementary, middle, and even high school, when war becomes more prominent in the social studies curriculum, and children be ...more
Joanna Marple
Oct 20, 2011 Joanna Marple rated it it was amazing
This is a book for children, or is it? about the futility of war. Uncluttered text line drawings in black, white, khaki and a hint of red render the simple message powerfully. The book has a World War I trench scenario with two enemy soldiers each in a trench following orders and the manual, which they were given at the beginning of the war, showing how the enemy are always beasts capable of killing families, pets and so on. As each soldier discovers his enemy’s empty hole and the unexpected fam ...more
wide reading for CI546

grade level: simple book (elementary) but could be read by all grade levels / ages

genre: picture book / realistic fiction

themes: war, peace, differences, similarities

cultures: none. any. ever. technically I can see people arguing that they are white men since the paper is white but they are stick figures w/o race if you ask me.

awards: none specific to this book (I don't think) but the author has won various awards (particularly European) and the illustrator Serge Bloch has
Oliver Jeffers
Mar 17, 2016 Oliver Jeffers rated it it was amazing
This might be one of the most poignant books ever written about the tragedy of war. Cali’s sparse, gripping text, paired with Bloch’s simple line drawings, guide the reader through the chilling futility of man killing man. I frequently cite The Enemy when seeking to convey the ability of picture books to address powerful issues.
Destinee Sutton
Though the pictures are simple and cartoonish, the content of this book could definitely scare little kids. The story is told from the perspective of a solitary soldier who believes his enemy is "not a human being," and that the enemy will "kill our families and our pets." Of course, the point of the book is that the enemy soldier has been told the same thing--that neither wants to kill, but both feel they must.

As a book that addresses a complex subject in a simple way, I would give it four sta
Karen C.
Mar 30, 2016 Karen C. rated it it was amazing
"The Enemy: A Book About Peace" by Davide Cali is by far one of the best children's books that I've read. It talks about how life at war for a soldier may be like. It brushes on the idea that sometimes people fight a war that is not theirs. The book is narrated by a soldier who has been taught to hate a soldier in the hole next to his, he has been taught to call him his enemy. The narrator believes that they have nothing in common, and that the other soldier only wants to kill him. However, in r ...more
Amanda Skarupsky
The Enemy is a creatively written book about war and finding peace. This story tells the tale of two cartoon soldiers fighting in a war where they really do not have much information. Both soldiers were essentially given a "manual" of the enemy and told to kill them. Neither soldier knows why but they automatically believe the other guy is bad. Both of them hide from the other but long to end the war and go home to their families. Do the soldiers ever find peace away from fighting for a cause th ...more
Sharon Amolo
Mar 13, 2013 Sharon Amolo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Great message of the power of propaganda and how we need to judge each other by how they treat.
Alex Baugh
May 05, 2015 Alex Baugh rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
I pulled this book off my shelves when thinking about Dresden this week. I love this book. It says so much using so little. Two soldiers, sitting opposite each other in their separate foxholes, are enemies because their manuals told them they were enemies.

One solider claims his enemy isn't human, he's a beast, knows no mercy, will kill families, pets, burn down forests, poison water. Well, that's what the manual says, anyway. But sitting in a foxhole isn't easy - one gets hungry, it rains and be
Marissa García
Mar 27, 2013 Marissa García rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sophisticated, war
Arresting, alarming, and very lovely. This sophisticated picture book examines all the nuances of war, and the motivations of the humans on either side in simple text that speaks loud.

"At night, there are lots of stars above my hole. I wonder if the enemy sees them too. Maybe if he looked at them he would understand that war is pointless and it must stop. But I can't be the first to stop fighting, because he would kill me. I would not kill him if he stopped first, because I am a man. I am not a
Marissa Garcia
"At night, there are lots of stars above my hole. I wonder if the enermy sees them too. Maybe if he looked at tthem he would understand that war is pointless and it must stop. But I can't be the first to stop fighting, because he would kill me. I would not kill him if he stopped first, because I am a man. I am not a beast."

This unusual and wonderful picture book by Italian author Davide Cali rides the line between two very distinct age groups; its picture book format is friendly for young reader
Sep 01, 2015 Margaux rated it it was amazing
This is probably the most simple explanation of war I've ever seen. A soldier is in his hole, told that his enemy is in the next hole, and that he has to kill the enemy. But when he dons his disguise in order to surprise his enemy, he sees that the enemy has been given a similar manual to his own but where he sees his enemy in his own manual, his enemy's manual has his face and it is labeled "enemy." Very powerful, and very concise and simple.
Dec 01, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
I thought this one was very powerful. The only illustration that gave me a bit of difficulty was the one where the enemy (with the devil tail) is walking away leaving dead people and animals in his wake. Because of that (and the subject in general) I would recommend it for older children.

I had a copy checked out when my niece came to visit. She saw it in my room and sat down to read it. At the end she told me, "I really liked that one because they both threw each other a bottle to end the war."
Kathleen Behrendt
Mar 02, 2013 Kathleen Behrendt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: peace, war-fiction
This is a deceptively simple story about the realities, and misconceptions, of war. The 2 soldiers are told to fight each other. They believe that the other soldier (the enemy) is not human, but a monster. They fight each other until the are tired, wet and hungry. After they both crawl to the other's hole and find it empty, they send bottles with peace messages to each other. The books ends with this exchange.

Even though this is a picture book, it is not meant for young children. One of the page
May 24, 2014 Theresa rated it it was amazing
Immediately, I want to recommend this to everyone. It's more of a picture book for adults with simple but amazingly effective and moving illustrations and text. Almost like a primer version of All Quiet on the Western Front. Could be a great jumping off point for discussing war and the implicit anti-war message with school age kids if you lead with some thoughtful discussion.
Mar 30, 2014 Naomi rated it really liked it
I always know when my librarians place things on my books to pick-up shelf that they are either screwing with me or want me to evaluate it before they read it. This one was a they were screwing with me.

While I didn't find the message too bad, I did find it to be simplistic and maybe too early for a young reader...unless considering it propaganda.
Ms Threlkeld
Aug 25, 2014 Ms Threlkeld rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is the kind of book I will think about long after I read the last page. It challenges the way we think about different cultures and the things society tells us are bad or good. It could spark some amazing conversations in upper elementary, middle and even high school and would be a great complement to SS curriculum.
Christopher James
Apr 27, 2014 Christopher James rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
This book is as poignant a look at war as I've seen. Although it's prescribed as a children's book, I would say that the points made within the book are fit for everyone. This book will undoubtedly be a mainstay in my classroom, regardless of what grade I happen to be teaching. Needless to say, I adore it.
My daughter and I are covering World War I in school currently and it was a challenge to find many picture books on the topic, so I was grateful to have this one recommended to me. The Enemy a Book about Peace would best be appreciated by a reader who has some understanding of World War I, the many standstills the armies suffered through, and what propaganda is. Really enjoyed it!
Carrie Gelson
This book is picture book for everyone - read it before sharing with younger children but ideal for intermediate age through high school and beyond. The futility of war. The humanity behind each soldier. Powerful.
Nov 04, 2011 Randy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Though the title of this book may throw you, it is a book of peace. Two soldiers fire at each other every day from their individual holes. Convinced that the "enemy" is less than human, the narrator describes how he must protect and defend himself. Finally, in a desperate drive for the war's end the narrator leaves his hole, to discover that his enemy is very much like himself, after all.

I picked this book up because the story was so simple and yet so powerful.

I finished it because picture books
Oct 06, 2014 Amber rated it it was amazing
My son and i read together. He liked that it was similar to the trench warfare in warhorse - futile. very deep subject for a kid, but sometimes they understand better than adults do
this is an incredible children's book about war and peace. set in the trenches of an unknown time and place, one person describes the loneliness, isolation, and desperation of warfare. what is an enemy? is it a person or a monster? do we believe everything we read in our manuals? or! do we venture toward uncharted waters and throw a message in a bottle to our enemy: peace, always peace.

from the book:
"a long time ago, on the first day of the war, we were given a manual and a gun. the manual tells
This is a very good picture book. It talks of two soldiers in a war, that only involves the two of them. It is also about their feelings and thoughts about each other, and how they change throughout the book.
I started this book because I had to do an English assignment on a picture book. Also because I like picture books that teach kids about things like peace, like this book. Another good example is The Dot. I finished this book because I found this book very cute, and funny.
I would recommend
Mar 18, 2013 Brigida rated it liked it
Shelves: chapter-books
Sometimes it feels like peace is a foreign concept since all we know is violence. We are taught to fight and employ violence to get what we want. We throw peace out the window. Why is that? In this book, there is a war going on. We get the two tales from the opposing sides. They want the war to end but at what costs? Who will have to kill who first? Or is there another alternative? Could they end the war? This book is a definite read for those who want to know its ending. However, remember to as ...more
Oct 30, 2015 Kym rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-lit
Definitely a war book. Two enemy soldiers learn they are more alike than different and peace is better than war.
Nick Shaffer
A terrific book. I don't know if in today's society we could use that hook in a classroom but still a veery good book.
Apr 28, 2016 Marija rated it it was amazing
This is a book about two soldiers engaging in a battle of trench warfare. At first they are focused on their cause, but as the war rages on they find it harder to hold on to the beliefs they were taught. I thought this book did a really great job of conveying a very difficult concept using a picture book format. The text was short but very powerful, and this would be a great book to use when teaching about visual literacy and inferencing. I also like that there are many opportunites to lead stud ...more
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"Davide Cali 1972 in Liestal (CH) geboren und lebt in Genua. Er war Comic-Zeichner und Illustrator für verschiedene italienische Zeitschriften, bis er sich im Jahr 2000 dem Kinderbuch zuwandte. Anfangs Autor und Illustrator, entschied er schließlich, nur noch zu schreiben. Inzwischen hat Davide Calì mehr als 20 Bilderbücher verfasst, die in viele Sprachen übersetzt wurden." (
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