Book Review of “A Map and a Mule: A Peace Story of Queen Isabel of Portugal.”

I am a frequent reader of children’s books. I can’t help it. I have two small children of my own who have voracious appetites for books, so reading and reviewing this book seemed a welcomed challenge.

As many adults can attest there is no lack of books for children and most of it just doesn’t keep you coming back for more — even though such sentiment may not be shared by your child. I dove straight into this book with a willful giddiness because it explored the largely forgotten topic of peace. Not the typical child peace story that takes place during recess, but an actual story of someone engaging in nonviolent action to thwart bloodshed. These are the stories that I want my children to be versed in, exposed to, and ultimately to possess in their own right.

The two short stories that Timar shares in regard to the life of Queen Isabel are remarkable stories in many ways. This is like no other Queen story out there and certainly not one I’ve come across in my own peace studies research. Timar should be commended for shedding light to this story and also for researching so many paintings, sculptures and maps that decorate the pages of this short book. Timar invites the reader into the life of Queen Isabel — tumultuous as it was. He spares the gore in favor of a lighter version, but the story and its profundity are adequately retold. Timar’s writing does not inherently draw the reader in as some children’s books do; but it certainly succeeds in exposing an ancient story of peace that should be told for generations to come. Thank you Eric — and here’s to more works on peace.

Comments (2)

  1. Tim B

    Two children’s books I recommend…

    Tim Ladwig’s Psalm 23. Simply the Psalm and on each page an, um, urban inspired picture. As four children walk to school the Psalm plays out with various nefarious characters with the children winding up safely at home, in the grand-parents house, at the table. Beautiful pictures and probably the most relevant telling of Psalm 23 I’ve ever read.

    Enemy Pie by Derek Munson. Our main character is bullied by a new neighbor. His dad talks him into making an “enemy pie” to give to the bully. The child wonders what’s in it? worms? Poison? Nope, something much worse…delicousness!

  2. Eric Timar

    The peace book for children I most often recommend is Six Crows by Leo Lionni; a farmer and a flock of crows fall into a wasteful “arms race” until a wise owl talks some sense into them.

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