Saturday, November 1, 2008



GREAT PEACEMAKERS is a collection of twenty 6-8 page biographies of great peacemakers from around the world. The book is divided into five sections: Choosing Nonviolence, Living Peace, Honoring Diversity, Valuing All Life, and Caring for the Planet. It contains biographies of some people you would expect to see, e.g. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, Albert Schweitzer, and Rachel Carson. It also contains biographies, however, of people I had never heard of, or at least had never heard of in this context:
  • Astrid Lindgren- author of the much-loved PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, but also a children's and animal rights activist
  • Anderson Sá- founder of a band and musical movement that has gotten Brazilian kids out of street gangs and into music and the arts
  • Colman McCarthy- a former Washington Post journalist who has taught courses in peace making to more than 6,000 prison inmates, and high school and university students
  • Bruno Hussar- a Catholic priest who created a village on a hilltop between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where Jews and Arabs live, learn, and work together
Each biography starts with a large black and white photo, and a brief summary of the peacemaker's accomplishments. Each chapter ends with a page of four or five quotes from the peacemaker. There is also a website (

There is much to love about this book. I love that readers are exposed to such a wide range of peacemakers-- male and female, old and young, rich and poor, from all over the world. I love that this book might provoke kids into considering their own lives in light of the greater good. I love that the biographies are short enough that you could pick the book up and expose kids to an amazing individual in fifteen minutes (or less). 

If I had one wish for this book, it would have to do with formatting. The book is just not as visually appealing as it could be. Everything inside the book is black and white, there is absolutely no color. There are no subtitles, or pull quotes, or anything else to break up the pages and make them more visually appealing. The margins are narrow, and the print goes to within a half an inch of the edge of each page. If there are sequels, and I definitely think there should be, I'd love to see the authors and publishers work a little on the formatting of the book. 

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