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

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  224 ratings  ·  57 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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Joanna Marple
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...more
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...more
Sharon Amolo
Great message of the power of propaganda and how we need to judge each other by how they treat.
Marissa Garcia
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...more
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...more
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."...more
Kathleen Behrendt
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...more
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.
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!
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
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.
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
SO GOOD!!!!! I love this quick little book; it'll absolutely become a classic about war. what's the soldier in the other foxhole doing? thinking? who did he leave at home? is he REALLY an enemy?? and is he even really there? who says? I loved this, and so did everyone I showed it to afterward. the art is nice and simple - reminiscent of "Eloise" and "Olivia" with the three-color palette. Absolutely recommended! It's one that I want to buy, and am not content to have just read it and be able to s...more
The Enemy is a book about two soldier's in a war. However you don't know its another soldier he is known as the enemy. The soldier who is telling the story hopes the war will end soon so he can go home. He one day makes his way out of his hole to find that he is in the hole of his enemy. But the enemy has a family when he sees pictures in the enemy's hole he searches further. Will he find out the truth about who is in the other hole you must read to find out.
*Queen Diva*
I LOVE picture books like these that would make people feel uncomfortable and go "This is not appropriate!" but this book is so brutally honest that I couldn't NOT love it! I believe in telling kids how it is, so I can appreciate the honesty of this book. I also really loved the illustrations. Awesome illustrations + great honesty most people are too worried to talk about with children = a great book. End of story. Fantastic work, Davide Cali!
Jan 08, 2014 Dolly rated it 3 of 5 stars Recommends it for: older children and parents reading with them
This is a book about war, with a plea for peace. It shows the futility and stupidity of trench warfare, with an allegory for war in general. It has sparse cartoons, and an interesting narrative with a sardonic wit that is not really appropriate for younger children. Recommend for older children reading with parents; this book provides a wonderful opportunity to start a discussion about war.
Really a masterpiece.

My favorite kind of picture book in that a child or person of any age can be moved by this book. Moved to think, to examine one's own outlook, to have empathy, to favor peace.

Again, Cali doesn't shy away from difficult content, but the book as a whole is done thoughtfully and without trauma.

Who is the enemy?
It depends on who you ask...
Alisha Williams
This book was about war. It would be appropriate for the kids if something major had just happened, like another terrorist attack or maybe if their was some serious fighting in the class. I wouldn't just read it for a read aloud. It did also have illustration of dead people with blood. Wouldn't read it to any grade younger than third.
I really loved this book, I brought it home for my 8 year old and we had quite an involved discussion about the book and what it means..... I don't agree with the picture book status, I think it needs to be in the Jfic collection for sure...
I highly recommend this, -a great place to start a conversation about the topic.
LaRaie Zimm
This is a very moving young reader's picture book about the futility of war, and the misguided way we think of others as enemies. The clever use of unique illustrations add a dimension to the already simple and powerful text. I would recommend this book to promote discussion about war and violence and how it affects us.
This is a wonderful book but you really need to know your patron before giving it out. This is a hard book. It really would make a great disscussion point for a high school current events class or a junior high group talking about peace. It is one sided and it has some pictures that may bother you. Grades 4+
Beth Chandler
In simple terms and clear but not graphic illustrations, this book explains what war is like psychologically and sociologically. Excellent for showing a elementary-school-aged the other side of the "glory" of war.

Definite purchase for Quaker and other nonviolence-oriented children's collections.
John Yiannoudis
very strong book. Simple, elegant, clear, not afraid to touch concepts considered to be "difficult" for kids. From personal experience (Dorothy Snot Parent's Book Club) I can say some parents stand sceptical abt the book but kids love it. Definitely give it a try!
Kathleen Dixon
Good children's books speak to adults as well. This book is sponsored (I guess, because it's got a blurb about them and their website) by Amnesty International, and is a succinctly worded and illustrated message about the futility and dishonesty of war.
Picture book good for older readers and discussion of what war is and why we fight it.

"Sometimes I think the others have forgotten us. Maybe the war is over and no one remembered to tell us. Or maybe the world does not exist anymore."
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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." (
More about Davide Cali...
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