Score: 88/100 (8.8 out of 10)
Lindsay Ann Fink's style is incredibly unique and a bit difficult to describe, but similar to The Rapping Astronaut by Sonia Marta, it works better as art and political commentary as opposed to being a source of entertainment for young readers. This is why both books are so difficult to judge and give a score to. If we were giving them a score based soley on creative merit and originality, then they would be pretty high up there. However, if we were giving them a score based on how they entertain and appeal to the target audience (children) or a general audience, then that's a much different story. There are times when these types of books are simply difficult to consume and look at. At the same time, that's kinda the point.
It is realistically possible that these types of books might confuse or even horrify some kids. And, you could argue, shouldn't they? This is a book about war. War is not pretty. It's not beautiful. It's not glorious.
War is terrible. People suffer. People lose their homes and livelihoods. People die. There are children out in this world who live in war-zones: places like Ukraine and Syria. They really need someone to tell their stories and to let others know that they need help—that they are not forgotten. Likewise, children in countries at relative peace like the United States can still empathize and care for children who are suffering in other countries. We are one kind: humankind. When our fellow man suffers, we are all suffering in one way or another. This is a powerful, important message.
Fink is a master at a form of art that can best be described as photomanipulation. What she will do is she'll take a compilation of different photographs taken the old-fashioned way (by camera), then cut them up and apply them to the canvas/page so as to tell a story or express a message. She did this masterfully in Ronnie's Pool which featured a combination of real-life photography and hand-drawn art. We were very impressed by the positive message shared in Ronnie's Pool like working together as a team, pursuing goals, and overcoming obstacles. In Peace in War, the message is arguably even more important and profound, perhaps even too profound for the target audience (children). This is some heavy stuff. While there aren't any images of gore, dead bodies, or horrific injuries, there are still images of cities having been bombed/destroyed and people in the act of using their weapons. What do you expect? That's war. And the author is at least mindful enough to keep the presentation of violence to a minimum while not detracting from the message.
Some of these images can be unsettling and disturbing, not just for children but for adults as well. But just because something makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't make it “not good.” Exercise is uncomfortable. Public speaking can be uncomfortable. Wearing a helmet while biking or skating is uncomfortable. Waking up and going to work or school can be uncomfortable. But we do these things because it's the right thing to do. That's what this book accomplishes: it shares an uncomfortable message with uncomfortable images because it's the right thing to do. We can definitely appreciate that!
And this book isn't barren of light or color. In fact, light and color are used to great artistic effect. Scenes of war are portrayed in darkness, absent of color. Scenes in which people are helping and supporting each other are portrayed in light. Flowers and nature (including butterflies) are typically used to symbolize peace. They are motifs in that sense, and they are used to great effect.
Hope exists, and that is a powerful thing. The central character, a little girl who picks and distributes flowers, is a bringer of peace. It seems as though this child represents the potential of the future generation to bring about a better world free of war.
This is truly an extraordinary, atypical book that should be looked on highly for its artistic merit.
Check it out on Amazon!