How about beginning a new school year by greeting teachers and classmates with a few words in their native language? Very young children can actually master this with Can You Greet the Whole Wide World?: 12 Common Phrases in 12 Different Languages (Houghton Mifflin, $16). In Lezlie Evans' story, we follow a cool cat through his first day back at school. He can say "Good morning!," "How are you?" and the very important "I'm sorry" in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, Zulu and more. A clear layout and bright, flat paintings by Denis Roche will help kids make new friends and keep the peace.
A simple way to honor the International Day of Peace, on Sept. 21, is with Can You Say Peace?, by Karen Katz (Holt, $15.95). Each folk-art illustration in this book teaches children how to say a word in 22 different languages. The scenes show families in various cultures living their peaceful daily lives, at school and around town.
An awareness of what peace means begins in childhood, according to many of the heroes in Paths to Peace: People Who Changed the World, by Jane Breskin Zalben (Dutton, $18.99). Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Cesar Chavez and 13 other individuals who made a difference are profiled for older readers. Stunning collages use etchings, watercolor and found objects. Aung San Suu Kyi, who fights for peace in Myanmar, is shown wrapped in a quilt made of fabrics from Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
And finally, Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War (Candlewick, $16.99) is the oldest-known written story in the world. It comes from present-day Iraq, or rather the sophisticated Sumerian civilization of 5,000 years ago. This "Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq" is artfully retold by Kathy Henderson and exquisitely illustrated by Jane Ray. In a story of monsters and action, gods and goddesses, young prince Lugalbanda gains the strength that allows him to help bring a peaceful resolution to war.
- Kathleen Krull