May 6, 2011
The Enemy: a book about peace
The Enemy: a book about peace by Davide Cali
Illustrated by Serge Bloch
Let me first say that The Enemy, originally published in French as L'Enemmi, is classified as a picture book for children ages 4-8. I personally cannot imagine reading this book to anyone under 8. That said, this book should be read by EVERYBODY over 8!
The story takes place in a battlefield. There are two soldiers, each hiding in its own trench, and they have never seen each other. The narrator is one of the soldiers who tells us about his enemy, "The enemy and I have nothing in common." "He is a wild beast," who doesn't know mercy. "I know this because I read it in my manual." "The enemy is not a human being." As the days and months pass, the soldier starts to wonder if the war will ever end. Maybe if he sneaks up on his enemy and kills him, then "the war will be over and I can go home to my family." He leaves his trench and finds his enemy's empty and inside it there's is a manual, just like his but with him as the face of the enemy. In his enemy's manual, he is the monster.
The Enemy is an amazing, powerful, and timeless story about the pointlessness of war. It's a picture book that could be use even in a high school classroom to generate a reaction and a debate about war. The Enemy stays with you long after you've finished it.