Review: Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom

Building Bridges: Peace, Salaam, Shalom

by Callie Metler, Shirin Rahman, and Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Kate Talbot

Spork (imprint of Clear Fork Publishing), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Suzanne Grossman

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This sequel to Planting Friendship: Peace, Salaam, Shalom highlights the cooperative efforts of three girls, best friends of different faiths. In the earlier book, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim friends planted a tree together in Peace Park. In the sequel, the bridge leading to the park has become unsafe and the children rally their community to raise money for its restoration, using brainstorming and teamwork. 

The clear text is accompanied by graphic artwork that is color drenched and engaging. Jewish Hannah and Christian Molly present as white, while Muslim Savera has dark skin. Their classmates have a variety of skin tones and one child is in a wheelchair.

The three authors represent the three religious backgrounds of the main characters. In the back matter, they encourage readers to consider how they can be bridge builders in their own communities and bring peace, salaam, shalom to help heal the world. They also challenge readers to seek and find symbols of the three faiths in the illustrations, including places of worship, foods, and cultural objects.
While a helpful book to open discussion about teamwork and overlooking cultural differences, the Jewish content may not be significant enough for it to meet the criteria for a Sydney Taylor Book Award.

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Reviewer Suzanne Grossman is happily retired after 30 years as a children’s library media specialist. She had the opportunity to share books, tell stories, and encourage the joy of reading with thousands of children. The moment when a child enters a story, experiences life as a character does and walks through the setting the author has created is magical. She is honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Sydney Taylor Shmooze, working to bring the best of the newest Jewish children’s literature into the lives of young readers. Having the gift of time, she now enjoys writing picture books and sharing them with children. Happy reading everyone!