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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  493 Ratings  ·  99 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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Alex Baugh
Jan 16, 2014 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
Whitney Rachel
Jul 25, 2014 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
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I agree with others that The Enemy is a picture book with a message that adults need as much as children. The text and illustrations are deceptively sparse and simple, but they make an incredibly poignant point about the nature of war and intergroup hatred in general. The story follows a soldier who spends miserable days waiting in a trench, occasionally throwing things at his enemy—a soldier in another trench, doing the same. The protagonist explains that the enemy is inhuman, a monster, and th ...more
Joanna Marple
Oct 20, 2011 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
Carrie Charley Brown
Sep 02, 2014 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
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile, war
Wow. This is such a simple condemnation of war-mongering. The two soldiers in their two holes are the saddest thing. Each has been fed a pack of lies about the other- taught that they enemy is a beast who must be killed. They are waging war for nothing. This was a surprising topic for a picture book in the easy section, but it's a concept that all children should be exposed to
Sharon Amolo
Feb 10, 2013 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.
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a simple but touching story about prejudice in times of war and our common humanity. Taking place in two holes, similar to foxholes, with a vast white space in between, this imaginary war is reminiscent of World War One. The white space seems representative of the real or imagined philosophical divide of these two enemies, and the holes of their limited points of view. After a World War One “going over the top” episode, our protagonist finds out exactly who his “enemy” really is.

While th
Marissa Elera
Jan 08, 2013 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
Karen C.
Mar 30, 2016 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
Nov 15, 2014 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
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
Kathleen Behrendt
Mar 02, 2013 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
Dec 01, 2009 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."
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
Nov 04, 2011 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 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
While this picture book is not for young children, I think it should be a must read for children in grades 5 and up. Even adults will be touched by this story about a soldier, who is in a hole, shooting at the enemy every day, wanting to kill the enemy before the enemy kills him. He knows the enemy is not a human being because his manual told him that. However, one day he sneaks out and winds up in the enemy's hole and finds photographs of the enemy's family and the enemy's manual, which is just ...more
Sep 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I think this is a beautiful and honest story about war and peace. I'm not sure what age group this could/should be shared with because it is very deep, but it would lead to incredible discussion.

I also think that at this point in time, some of this is no longer true. I do think there are groups out there that are ruthless and evil, and this might not apply to all war. Still, an exceptional book.
Meira (readingbooksinisrael)
The story was cute and the pictures, which were different than any in other picture books I had seen before, were different enough to entertain me. I especially liked the bright red against the blandness in one part.
I felt that I had heard this story many times before. Maybe that's just from growing up in Israel or maybe it's a universal thing. But still, I think it is an incredibly important story to read and talk about to little children. Especially Israeli children.
Miss Ryoko
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-book
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!
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.
Oliver Jeffers
Mar 16, 2016 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.
Aug 23, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Minimalistyczne ilustracje Serge Blocha i wiele pustych miejsc dookoła krótkich zdań przekazują to, co najważniejsze - jest wojna. Gdzieś na pustkowiu, w dwóch okopach siedzi dwóch żołnierzy z przeciwnych armii. Wyposażonych w karabin i instrukcję, która mówi, że ten drugi to bestia. Każdy z nich chce rozpaczliwie przerwać wojnę, każdy patrzy w nocy w gwiazdy i rozmyśla, każdy ma rodzinę i chce, by to się już wreszcie skończyło.
Książka z rekomendacją Amnesty International.
Tessa Duncan
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story tells of two soldiers pitted against each other in the war. Both soldiers are told to kill each other, and that the other is a monster. One soldier realizes that they both received the same propaganda and prays for the war to end. This story showcases the pointlessness of war in the form of a simple story.
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
. Over oorlog
. Spannend
. Mist zijn effect niet
. Geen licht verhaal, zwaar onderwerp dat ook blijft nazinderen. Sterk visueel en met tekst gebracht.
. Moderne aanpak
. Niet voor (zeer) jonge kinderen. Extra duiding is zeker nodig.
. Educatief
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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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