Books that provide children with information and alternatives to violence and offer models of peacefulness are all-too-difficult to find. My criteria for selecting books to review include the highlighting of these tenets.
Eileen Spinelli's Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch is an all-time favorite book! Children delight in the illustrations: They enjoy searching for the mouse that appears in each scene within Mr. Hatch's house, and are angered when the postal carrier asks for the valentine back.
The message that "somebody loves you" changes Mr. Hatch's outlook on existence. Once lonely and stuck in a rut-eating a mustard and cheese sandwich, coffee, and a prune (for dessert) for your lunch every day strikes me as being in a rut-his life is transformed, opening him to joy and love freely given and received. Through a simple act, a new behavior pattern is learned and, with or without the valentine candy, Mr. Hatch discovers he is loved and can love others. Per-forming those random acts of kindness is important!
Jon-Jon and Annette, by Elzbieta, is a morality tale that reminds the reader of the one thing even war cannot destroy: hope. Elzbieta, a popular French children's author, has created a book that is enjoyable to read and carries an important message.
The simple collage illustrations are often framed by a window or door through which Jon-Jon, a rabbit, is viewing the consequences of war. This war has separated him from his best rabbit friend, Annette, and he doesn't understand why. But as young people are often able to be naively honest and courageous, the barriers of fear and hate do not stop these two rabbits from continuing a friendship, even though they are on opposite sides of a brook that is surrounded by thorn bushes.