Picture Book Anniversary & Review: i see peace, by Maya Gonzalez

what-is-peace-2Favorite quote: “there can still be peace between us.”

There are a few books out there that will never get old, that are timeless. i see peace is one of them, especially when we consider the year that we’ve just had: all the shootings, the (suicide) bombings, the racial and political and economical tensions all over the world and closer to us.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I read this book since I’ve owned it. Every time I paused and pondered on a different page, on a different quote. I looked within and I looked around. Through its words I chased hope when it had become shy. I crossed the bridge of generations and of mutual understanding, one page at a time. The book speaks every language, and to every generation. It will make you smile when all is alright, and remind you of what matters. It is likely to make you feel peaceful when there is turmoil.

i see peace suits any occasion. It makes for a great holiday gift and beyond that, its reading can be appreciated all year long. It also strikes me as the type of message our world needs right now. I hope you will give it a chance.

Additional information:

i see peace book cover, courtesy of Maya Gonzalez.
i see peace book cover, courtesy of Maya Gonzalez.

More can be written about the concise writing style and the font use. There is matter to reflect regarding the deliberate lack of capital letters in the beginning of every sentence. The illustrations are minimal and leave room to breathe without being overwhelming, while adding to the depth of the reading experience. I enjoyed how, looking at them, they add to the multidimensionality of the theme of peace: peace with one self, peace with each other, peace with the earth and our surroundings. Yet for the purpose of this review, I chose to focus solely on the message of the book. I leave the additional literary analysis to the discretion of the reader.

i see peace was released on December 16, 2013, and is one of the excellently self-published books that I would recommend. It was free for upload on Amazon for short period of time late in 2014, which is how it first got to my attention and how I obtained it. I mentioned in my Amazon’s review that I “Loved the historical reference at the end, which deepens the roots of the peace planted within during the reading of this song to our soul.” (sp)

A curriculum and activity guide for the book, titled Creating a Culture of Peace in the Classroom and Beyond, are available on the author’s website.

i see peace is also available in Spanish under the title yo veo la paz.

Maya-Christina GonzalezAbout the author:
Maya Gonzalez is an award winning artist and innovative author, an activist and an educator based in the Bay Area, in Northern California. Year long she teaches, among other topics, workshops on writing and illustrating children’s books through her school, the School of the Free Mind. She is the founder of Reflection Press. She has been both traditionally published and self-published.

For more information about Maya and to get in touch with her, please visit:
o her website
o School of the Free Mind
o Reflection Press
o her Facebook Page
o Twitter

For the classroom:
o Educational Resources and Programs

This is my last post for 2015. I wish you all a warm and safe holiday season.




PB Review: Let The Faithful Come, written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Charity Russell

Favorite Quote
“And as they travel from near or far,
Let fear and anger empty from their hearts.”
Let The Faithful Come, written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Charity Russell.

Okay, picking just one quote was a difficult task, and I had to restrain myself to not give out too much of this unique nativity story. I purchased Let The Faithful Come two weeks ago, right before embarking on a long, long travel.

Let The Faithful Come, Zetta ElliottThere is something about reading this book on a plane – implying I was on my own “sacred journey”, in the dark, with as only source of light the illustrations jumping off a screen. How could I describe the experience? First the words hit you, your mind proceeds to process the depth of their meaning – “let them stand together in patient expectation” (side note: expectation! What a great word for kids to learn); and the illustrations give the final punch. Then you turn the page and it’s happening all over again.

There is something about reading this story in the midst of an escalation of terrorism acts on a global scale, including in places not covered by mainstream media, including in the very place where I am right now. Something about going somewhere, to celebrate the birth of a child and every child through him. Indeed whether you believe in God or not, whether Jesus-Christ means something to you or not, if you have children in your life chances are you will celebrate the end of the year by celebrating them, by offering the children who matter to you a gift.

There is indeed something about reading of a sign of hope to follow, questions regarding what is left of compassion in our world, and the reminder of how precious every child is.

Let The Faithful Come, Boat scene, illustration courtesy of Zetta Elliot & Charity Russell.
Let The Faithful Come, Boat scene, courtesy of Zetta Elliot & Charity Russell.

Refugees. That is the first word that came to mind when I ventured through the first pages. I sat up straight, and read the story again, and again. I used to be a Sunday school teacher (over the span of 25 years); as a bookseller I read quite an amount of Nativity stories during that short period of my professional time. Though I haven’t read all the Nativity books for children under the sun, this one is the first that struck me by its relevance in regard to current events, from the text to the modern-day illustrations. Let The faithful Come offers a unique opportunity to engage in dialog with young and old regarding the true meaning of Christmas, regardless of one’s religious background.

A note regarding the illustrations: Except for the last one, all the scenes are set in the nighttime. With the challenge that a night setting can present, I applaud Charity Russell for offering the reader such bright, vibrant and colorful depictions of journeys made in the darkest of times. I especially enjoyed the purple hue throughout the pages. In some cultures purple represents a royal color. With that in mind the illustrations could indeed infer that each person on these pages, despite his or her difference in clothing style, and skin tone, and body shape and gender, is royalty and therefore that the well-off person on top of the social ladder matters as much as the one below.
In addition, and here I’m being totally biased, it gave me such joy to see a child of color celebrated by a crowd. Thanks to the author and illustrator for such a positive image. A detail like that in a book can alter a kid’s outlook on his future.

Zetta ElliottAbout the author
Zetta Elliott, PhD, is an award winning children’s book author, a playwright, an educator and an activist. At the time of this post she has over seventeen books published under her imprint Rosetta Stone as well as traditionally. For additional information regarding her books and to get in touch with her, please visit

o Zetta Elliot’s website
o Blog
o Facebook
o Twitter
o Don’t Stop Believing: Guest post by Zetta Elliott on The Brown Bookshelf.

Charity russell & booksAbout the illustrator
Charity Russell makes a statement about her commitment to and passion about diversity in children’s literature from the moment you land on her website. Based in the UK, she has “a First Class Masters Degree in ‘Illustration and Design’ from The University of Sunderland, U.K.” For additional information regarding her work and to get in touch with her, please visit:

o Charity Russell’s website
o Blog
o Facebook

Updated on December 2, 2015 to correct minor typos.