Whoever You Are
Whoever you are,
Wherever you are,
There are little ones just like you,
All over the world.
Their skin may be different from yours
And their homes may be different from yours;
Their schools may be different from yours
Whoever you are is my second book about peace and equality. The first was the allegorical tale Feathers and Fools, which was aimed at an older age group. Whoever you are is for children aged from one day (literally) to about five years old.
I come from a pacifist family who believes that tolerance is one of the great virtues, and that all people are equal and worthy of human rights and human dignity. Some years ago I read in the newspaper a shocking piece on the war in Bosnia (too shocking to reprint here) about the inhumanity of an 18 year old girl against a boy of the same age who had been her classmate only weeks before. She had become an animal in war and saw ‘enemies’ where she should have seen human friends who were just like her.
I thought: “We have to get to the kids, while they’re young. Teach them about the similarities between the peoples of the world, not the differences.” I imagined a tribal elder talking to a child, passing on the vaues of the tribe. The story-poem began to emerge.
Whoever you are breaks new ground in children’s book illustration. It could have been sweet and sentimental but instead has freed itself from cloying predictability in a style that’s a breath of fresh air. The divergent, naive-art illustrations are by Leslie Staub, a funky New Orleans artist.