Books CORL (Check Off your Reading List) Challenge 2014 GB Challenges It's Monday What Are You Reading Middle Grade Reading Themes War, Poetry, Refuge, Peace

For Peace’s Sake: Exploring World Folktales in Margaret Read MacDonald’s “Peace Tales” and the Tribute to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings in “On the Wings of Peace”

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Fats here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

We’re also inviting everyone to join our Check Off your Reading List Challenge 2014.

Sign up here to join us! Thanks to Iphigene, we now have our July-September linky up and running. We are also very excited to share that Pansing Books will be giving away copies of Slated by Teri Terry to two lucky CORL participants from July-September.

Carrie Gelson of There is a Book for That is also hosting #mustreadin2014.


While we’re on the subject of war and peace, I thought it would be wonderful to share these two books I found in our online catalog. The first is a collection of world folktales gathered by Margaret Read MacDonald—a storyteller, a librarian, and a folklorist rolled into one. The second is a collaborative project by various writers and illustrators as their tribute to the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Both books are helpful resources in helping children understand the concepts of war and peace.

peacetalesPeace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About

Compiled and edited by: Margaret Read MacDonald
Published by: Linnet Books (1992)
Book borrowed from Hudson Library & Historical Society.

Peace Tales is divided into two major chapters: 1) Pathways to War; and 2) Pathways to Peace. The book includes thirty-four (34) folktales and twenty-nine (29) proverbs from around the world, talking about war and peace, and man’s power to choose one. The two pathways present readers the things that lead to war and peace, as portrayed in the stories. In the first edition of the book, readers will find the following words opposite the title page:

Humans are warring creatures.
They will fight to defend their land and possessions.
They will fight for the right to do as they please.

For humans peace does not come easily.
They must work hard at compromising with others to make peace happen.
The first step on the path to peace is choosing peace.

This book will help you think about peace as a choice.
Perhaps you will choose peace.
Perhaps not.

"Horses War Peace" painting by Sue Halstenberg.
“Horses War Peace” painting by Sue Halstenberg.

Although the book gravitates towards choosing and achieving peace, the stories also show what war can do. Two stories that share the same title, Two Goats on the Bridge, show readers what happens when one chooses war over peace, and vice versa. I had to take a second look to find out whether or not the stories came from the same country. Interestingly, the first was a tale from Russia, and the second was a tale from Eastern Europe.

Most of the stories in the book were presented in verse. It should be noted, however, that some stories were specially formatted by Margaret Read MacDonald for retelling purposes. Each story represents a pathway to war or peace, and is usually followed by a proverb. The use of folk wisdom helps readers reflect on the story they have just read.

In her website, Margaret Read MacDonald writes,

“Finding tales for this collection was not easy. It seems that humans spend much more time talking about ways to trick others…ways to defeat the enemy…ways to win the gold… Not so many stories are told about how to get along with one’s neighbors.”

I agree with what she said. In searching for books for our current theme about war and peace, I found more books about war than I did about peace. It is nice to know that MRM was able to include more stories about peace in Peace Tales.

Readers who enjoy looking at illustrations may not find the book appealing. The book is laden with words. There are only two illustrations in the book, one before each chapter. Nevertheless, Peace Tales remains a good resource on the topic of war and peace. Aside from the stories and proverbs included in the book, Peace Tales also offers peacekeeping techniques, book recommendations about peace for children and adults, tale notes that contain suggestions for storytelling and proverb sources, and a multicultural index.

wingsofpeaceOn the Wings of Peace

Writers and Illustrators Speak Out for Peace,
in Memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Published by: Clarion Books (1995)
Book borrowed from Wayne County Public Library.

As mentioned above, On the Wings of Peace is a tribute by various writers and illustrators in memory of the people who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki when these cities suffered the catastrophic damage created by atomic bombs. Some of the notable contributors to the book include Nikki Grimes, Walter Dean Myers, Katherine Paterson, Jerry Pinkney, and Ed Young. On the Wings of Peace is more appealing than Peace Tales in terms of layout. The glossy pages of the book contain essays, short stories, poems, and illustrations in full color. Purchasing the book will benefit the following international peace organizations: Amnesty International USA, For Our Children’s Sake Foundation, and Friends of Hibakusha.

Sheila Hamanaka, an award-winning children’s book illustrator, wrote the introduction for the book. She is best known for her work entitled, The Journey, a children’s book based on a five-panel mural she painted about the Japanese people in America. Although On the Wings of Peace was dedicated to the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, the book was also meant to be read by children. Sheila Hamanaka talks about children and peace in her introduction:

“[T]he people reading this book are special. Most of them are children, and children have very special gifts: the gifts of love and hope and the desire to play with everyone, no matter what color or nationality or religion they are. And that is what peace is all about. Adults, if they care about children, will make it their business to make sure peace happens now and happens everywhere — from family living rooms, to the streets, and to international borders. Adults who give the gift of life to children must make sure that the world is a safe place to grow up and give life to the next generation.”

To say that On the Wings of Peace is beautiful would be an understatement. I wasn’t sure how to go about writing my piece about this book, so I figured I would share some of my favorites from the book. The first of the contributions that make the book special is an essay written by Michio Kaku. Michio Kaku is a professor at the City College of New York. He graduated summa cum laude at Harvard University with a degree in Nuclear Physics and earned his doctorate degree at the University of California — Berkeley. In his essay, Michio Kaku writes a little about himself, a little bit about Einstein, and a whole lot about nuclear physics and its impact on humanity.

“Regrettably, our scientific skills have far outstripped the wisdom and compassion necessary to control this deadly, cosmic power. We are like spoiled infants playing with matches while floating on a swimming pool of gasoline.”
— Michio Kaku, Thoughts of a Nuclear Physicist

Artwork by James E. Ransome, a graduate of Pratt Institute and winner of Society of Illustrators Student Scholarship Competition.

Below is an excerpt from a poem by Walter Dean Myers entitled, To a Child of War.

If only you will not grow
Hard edged too soon
I will come with miles
Of wonder yarn
To unleash your mourning
My trembling, bloody hands
Will steady you a same/grief longer
And my glad song will croak against
The pale brilliance of the dead moon
If you can but wait

Kyoko Mori, author of Shizuko’s Daughter, Fallout, and The Dream of Water, shares a true story in her piece called “School Caps.” In her story, Kyoko Mori reflects on the impact of war on children.

“I am not sure if we have made much progress since my mother’s time. To be sure, the children now are taught that war is bad. But that isn’t enough. The anti-war message now appeals only to our feelings, just as the pro-war message had appealed to my mother’s feelings. Though the exhibit of the museum promotes peace, it still does not encourage us to ask questions: why so many countries decided to resort to the violence and destruction that led to the Second World War, how each country was responsible. If I were eight or nine, a Japanese child, I would go away from this museum thinking of my country as a helpless victim. I would not know that we, too, had destroyed other people and their homes. I would know little more than my mother had.” (p. 49)

There are many others in the book that I would love to share but I do not want to deny you the opportunity to explore this gem of a book. On the Wings of Peace helps readers reflect on war and its effect on people’s lives. There is heart in each of the content in On the Wings of Peace and readers will find the stories, poems, and illustrations captivating.

Currently Reading…

I’m delighted to share that I have finished reading Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s. I just placed a hold on the audiobook version so I can listen to it when I drive to and from work. I have also decided to put off reading Marjane Satrapi’s The Sigh because I have just received a new set of reading for our next theme. I hope I can return to it before the book is due. Anyway, here’s what’s keeping me busy for the last two days:


Habibi by Craig Thompson

Iphigene recommended Craig Thompson to me when she learned that I was reading the Persepolis graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi. She mentioned Blankets and Habibi, two of Thompson’s acclaimed graphic novels. I was only able to borrow Habibi because all copies of Blankets were in use at the time. If I get to finish Habibi on time, I just might be able to feature it for our current theme because the book focuses on two refugee child slaves.



Reading Challenge Update: 158, 159 (25)

6 comments on “For Peace’s Sake: Exploring World Folktales in Margaret Read MacDonald’s “Peace Tales” and the Tribute to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings in “On the Wings of Peace”

  1. Love the peace theme! Really appreciate books by Margaret Read MacDonald, shall see if my local library has Peace Tales… I just finished rereading Counting by 7s, just loved revisiting it.


  2. Hi Fats! I actually own a copy of On The Wings of Peace – I bought it during the library warehouse sale here in Singapore for two dollars. What a steal, right? Haven’t had a chance to read it though. I’m glad you featured it for our current reading theme. 🙂 HABIBI! I’ve been meaning to find that as well. Must be a gorgeous book.


  3. I love it when non-profit organizations publish books to help their causes. I really need to read Counting by 7s since it’s been so well received!


  4. I like The Crown On Your Head and I Would Know You Anywhere.


  5. I will look for both of these, Fats-what beautiful books with beautiful words they seem. I have The Big Book for Peace by Durell and Sachs, illustrated by Maurice Sendak-a good one for younger children. I loved Counting by 7s, so glad to hear you liked it, too. Thanks for all.


  6. Peace Tales looks terrific. I will add that to my list. I also love the gorgeous cover art on these picture books.


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