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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  260 ratings  ·  68 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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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  260 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Lily Avila
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: teachandlearn307
Genre: Poetry
Copyright date: 2007

Innocent creatures and people are affected by war without realizing all is about to change. A bit dark towards the end, but it brings out a big problem that most don't think about.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: columbia-38-2601
Why War Is Never a Good Idea is a poetic cautionary tale of how war infiltrates the lives of those who least expect and deserve it. War is personified as an evil force that destroys homes, villages, and people without knowing the damage it does. War is a character brought to life by abstract and chilling images; it creeps up slowly and transforms into a beast-like image.

The language in this is descriptive and poetic and causes the reader to stop and think. Naturally, Alice Walker is a poet and n
Oso Punchard
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up just yesterday in the library because I was bored and after reading "the color Purple" I wanted to read more of Alice's literature. This book had some of the most beautiful illustration that I have ever laid eyes on with such vivid colours and mosaic like texture it mesmerized me. When I read the story....oh god when I read the story I felt changed. I could not believe that his was a children's book! With all the ideas and the brutal honesty of how in war there is never a w ...more
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.
Oct 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read it and talk about it. . . with your peers, your children, your grandchildren.
Rebecca Tversky
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-books
The beauty of this book, menaced by a hideous monster of war, was a wonderful surprise. It was hard for my children to understand the implied threats so I had to explain what the book meant. After that, the book went from weird to okay. It grows on you and seeps into your experience, unpinning any foundation of support for war that was unconscious in your memory. It opens the way for alternative solutions by reminding us of how all things are connected, how innocents are destroyed and the carele ...more
Erica Gronowski
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: multicultural
Why War Is Never a Good Idea is a poetic cautionary tale of how war affects the lives of those who least expect and deserve it. War is personified as an evil force that destroys homes, villages, and people without knowing the damage it does. War is a character brought to life by chilling images; it creeps up slowly and transforms into a beast-like image.

I gave this a 4 out of 5 because it is a great read.
Dark, but meaningful message for older readers. Pictures perfectly reflect destruction and ruin of once beautiful places. "Now, suppose You / Become War / It happens / To some of / The nicest / People / On earth: / & one day / You have / To drink / The / Water / In this place.
May 10, 2018 rated it liked it
You really get the dark feeling of war in this book.
Juliana Chau
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
2007 A picture book of concept describing war and its effects that is both powerful and beautiful.
Zhānlìyàn Liú
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Title: Why War Is Never a Good Idea
Author: Alice Walker
Illustrator: Stefano Vitale
Genre: Book of poems or poetry collection
Theme(s): War, destruction, community, perspective
Opening line/sentence: Though war speaks in every language it never knows what to say to frogs
Brief Book Summary: This poem talks about the mass destruction caused by war. It starts off from the damage that war causes the unsuspecting animals/nature and ranges off to how war affects a nursing mother and child. Although it doe
Oct 21, 2012 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
Mar 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Cara Byrne
Aug 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
In Alice Walker's poetic work Why War Is Never A Good Idea, she explores what war is all about using incredibly simple words and examples of how it wantonly crashes into and changes the lives of everyday people and creatures, completely disregarding the landscape and natural resources and leaving a trail of destruction behind it.

Stefano Vitale's folk art painted illustrations take you around the world, showing how different places and people are impacted the same way by war and, as you can see,
Sep 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: libs-642
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
Dione Basseri
I understand the motivation to write this book. To show the next generation of children that war has a negative effect on people and the land (completely failing to acknowledge the sometimes necessary occasions for war, such as stopping genocide and all), in the hopes that they will stop the wars of the future.

But it's a hella boring book.

The text is taken from a poem by Alice Walker, which, while fine for adults, does nothing for a child reader, who doesn't have the more sophisticated poetic se
Judy Lindow
Nov 10, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
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
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"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
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their older children
With a poetic, almost lyrical, narrative and gorgeous illustrations with vibrant colors, this book really captures the joy of life and the horrifying destruction of war.

Having spent over twenty years in the United States Air Force, it is sometimes hard to reconcile the fact that we hurt sometimes as much as we help. This book brings this stark fact to life.

interesting quote:

"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
Lin Lin
Apr 28, 2011 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
"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.
A simple poem evokes War as a faceless, shifting entity with no consideration for the people and beauty of the world. “Though War is old it has not become wise†and “War has bad manners, War eats everything in its path & what it doesn’t eat it dribbles on.†The paintings are gorgeous, depicting various areas of the world at peace and beauty but with the growing shadow of War hovering closer until at the end of the book, most of the illustrations show War at its ugliest. Nothing graph ...more
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
Rosie Harris
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Nov 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Aug 14, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
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.
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Alice Walker, 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, and Possessi ...more