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Rationale - Re-telling - Translation - Activities - Reflection

Country: N. Ireland
Language: English
Title: War and Peas
Author: Foreman M.
Publisher: Picture Puffin (1978)
ISBN: 0-14-050243-2
Chosen by: Stuart Marriott
Senior Lecturer, University of Ulster at Coleraine, County Londonderry, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland.

Rationale for choosing the book:
This is a wonderful moral fable about the relationship between rich countries and a poor one, by one of the masters of the picture book form in the English speaking world. The book was chosen because it provides a way in which complex and difficult ideas about the relationship of nation states can be understood by young children.

The over-thin King Lion addresses his people about the famine that has overtaken their country. He suggests that they seek help from a rich nearby kingdom. As King Lion and his Minister for Food approach the neighbouring city, they are seized by guards and taken to Fat King. He treats them as robbers and tries to lock them up. Fortunately, they escape but are followed by Fat King's army who are too fat to fight properly. King Lion sends a message to his animals to attack, and to the birds to drop seeds. Then it begins to rain and, as a consequence, Fat King's army trucks get stuck in the mud and churn up the land so that the seeds can grow! Finally, King Lion realises that his enemy has helped them more than he realises and all Fat King can do is ask 'What is the recipe for peace?'.

Activities for use in school:
1. Examine how much of our food is grown in poor countries (eg by looking at labels on tins.) Using a world map, show how what we eat comes from all over the world, but mostly from small and poor countries.
2. Find out how much of the price of food is paid to the producer eg in the case of bananas, it is only one or two per cent. Third world development agencies can often provide information on these topics, and in some cases they also sell goods (eg coffee) which pay a fair price to the producer.
3. At the end of the story, the Fat King asks what the recipe for peace is. What might it be? What are the ingredients? How do they need to be prepared? Children could be asked to write a story in the form of a recipe which explores this theme.

Reflection: Consider ways of alleviating conflict.

NB Further literature and language-based activities can be found in
Picture Books sans Frontières
available from or

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ncrcl April 2003