Visual

Hello, Dear Enemy!

Picture books for peace

Attend

What: Opening reception for "Hello, Dear Enemy!"

Where: Wilson Library, WWU

More:

WHEN: 4-5pm Wed., Jan. 23; the exhibit will be on display at Western Libraries Galleries 2, 3 and 4 through March 23

Cost: Entry is free and open to the public

Info: http://www.libguides.wwu.edu/clic/hello-dear-enemy

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Although the powers that be at Western Washington University are thrilled that the printed posters comprising the “Hello, Dear Enemy! Picture Books for Peace and Humanity” exhibit will be on display at three of the school’s library galleries from Jan. 23 through March 22, they admit to being dismayed by the traveling exhibit’s continued relevance.

A look at the exhibit’s themes provides clues as to why there might be mixed feelings related to the indelible images Western Libraries, Woodring College of Education, Western’s Department of English, and the Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity worked together to bring to Bellingham.

With different sections of the show focusing on topics such as “Experiences of War, Destruction and Displacement,” “Power Struggles and the Origin and Escalation of Violence,” “Prejudice, Ostracism and Imagined Enemies” and “Utopias of Peace and Anti-War Books,” it might seem that all is doom and gloom when it comes to the unique selection of picture books sourced from around the globe. But that’s not the whole story—not by a long shot.

“Among the books featured are a few classics of children’s literature, but the majority of the titles were published in the last 15 years,” notes a recent press release about the show first conceived of by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. “They tell stories about everyday life in conflict zones, about suppression, displacement and persecution, about borders that turn people away, about threats and injuries. They reveal the sources of war and violence, such as xenophobia, prejudice and the abuse of power.

“At the same time, many of these picture books ultimately open the door to a better future in which dividing walls topple, enemies reconcile, and war gives way to peace. Many of these books communicate the message that openness, curiosity and empathy are prerequisites for a more peaceful and humane coexistence between cultures and peoples.”

Examples of art based on books such as Mario Ramos’ Le petit soldat qui cherchait la Guerre (The Little Soldier Who Sought the War) and Karen Lynn Williams’ Four Feet, Two Sandals—about two young Afghani girls living in a refugee camp in Pakistan who share a pair of sandals—reveal colorful and compelling images that help bring the messages in the books to vibrant life.

Other titles visitors to “Hello, Dear Enemy!” can explore include Migrant: The Journey of a Mexican Worker by Jose Manuel Mateo, Jeanette Winter’s The Librarian of Basra, Year of the Jungle by Suzanne Collins, Dr. Seuss’ Butter Battle Book, Munro Leaf’s The Story of Ferdinand, The Conquerers by David McKee, La Composition by Antonio Skarmeta, and more.

To dig deeper into the many themes relating to peace and humanity that can be uncovered within the context of these seemingly simple tales, interested parties should make their way to the Western Libraries website, where most of the books have a link that will provide more details about the selections.

And, since the exhibit is likely to prompt complex conversations, visitors should feel free to bring younger viewers along. Together, maybe it will be possible to discover how and why enemies can sometimes become allies.

Sugar Ray
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