Peace // Paz



author: Baptiste Paul

author: Miranda Paul

illustrator: Estelí Meza

translator: Aida Salazar

North / South Publishing, 2021

preschool-up



Peace can begin with a laugh and a wave,

and grow into actions remarkably brave.


La paz puede comenzar con una risa y un hola,

y crecer en acciones notablemente valerosas.


In Peace and Paz, young readers encounter children of various ages, cultures, ethnicities, genders, and skin tones. Two of them wear eyeglasses and one uses crutches. All are shown working and playing together in different environments, enjoying each other’s company—and the company of a multiplicity of animal friends and families as well.

In both the English and Spanish versions, each double-page spread consists of a perfectly rhymed couplet on one side, accompanied by a gorgeous illustration whose theme speaks directly to young readers: 

Peace can begin with a laugh and a wave // La paz puede comenzar con una risa y un hola…—two smiling children, accompanied by a colony of penguins, greet each other across an ice floe—… and grow into actions remarkably brave. // “y crecer en acciones notablamente valerosas —while a large shoal of big fish and little fish, swimming together to form an image of one enormous fish, fearlessly confront an unsmiling, possibly confused, shark.



Estelí Meza’s outstanding, vividly colored artwork—rendered in acrylic paints, graphite, colored pencil, and digital media—is strikingly reminiscent of a Cuban-based poster art style of flat features on humans, animals and flowers—each incorporating solid individual colors with no shading. 


Peace can be bold // La paz puede ser valiente… As a smiling fox, and a rabbit mama and her baby watch, a smiling girl swings upside-down from a tree limb…. or quiet and snug // o tranquil como un abrazo caliente, another child cuddles a rabbit, who appears to enjoy the attention.


In addition to the beauty of her artwork, Meza’s details are spot-on perfect. For instance, one girl, using a pair of forearm crutches, stands with one crutch leaning between her upper right arm and against her body, which frees her to reach out to a monarch butterfly flitting close enough to touch. In another illustration, she comfortably balances herself on both crutches, while she converses with a nearby rabbit.


Animals and / or insects accompany children—or vice versa—on virtually every page. Astute child readers and listeners will locate a dove, an international symbol of peace—sometimes alone, often with an olive twig, also a peace icon—on every double-page spread. As well, children will see myriads of fragile-seeming monarch butterflies, symbols of metamorphosis and strength, transformation and hope.


The final spreads fold outward into four pages and inward into two. On the four-page spread, youngsters see all of the children and the smaller animals playing in open space. When the pages are folded inward, readers see a single girl at a small campfire—with a dove on her shoulder and a monarch butterfly flitting overhead—reading to the attentive group of children and animals.


In perfectly rhyming couplets—without either version’s missing a beat or a nuance—both Peace and Paz will be enjoyed by young Spanish-speakers and English-speakers alike. And, read aloud together by an enthusiastic bilingual adult, they just might learn some of each others’ language as well. Both are highly, highly recommended.


— Beverly Slapin

(published 7/12/2021)

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