The Courage to be Kind

A new picture book about the boyhood of Albert Schweitzer teaches children how to be a hero for all living beings.

In a beautifully illustrated and inventive book entitled The Boy Who Loved All Living Things: The Imaginary Childhood Journal of Albert Schweitzer, award-winning author and illustrator Sheila Hamanaka depicts little known events from the childhood of a familiar Noble prizewinner. The book is a twist on a traditional family album, filled with "photos" of the animals Schweitzer held most dear: piglets, kittens, church mice, birds, worms, fish and more. The entries are all hand-lettered and embellished with 19th-century marbleized endpapers and wildlife prints. The story is intended for children in kindergarten through Grade 4.

But The Boy Who Loved All Living Things has much to its credit besides artistic merit. Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a renowned doctor who founded and devoted his life to a hospital in Gabon, Africa. As an adult, he often wrote about his early tests in life that played a large role in shaping his character. It is these events, based largely on his book Memoirs of Childhood and Youth (1949), that Hamanaka has taken great care to retell in young Albert's voice.

One day, for example, Schweitzer and his friend Heinrich were going to use slingshots to kill birds in a nearby tree. Albert was afraid Heinrich would laugh at him if he refused to participate, but at the last moment, he took decisive action and saved his bird friends. Years later, Schweitzer recalled that this was a seminal event in his life—one in which the ability to withstand social pressure set him on the path of critical thinking and action.

True stories of a child's mistakes, fears, kindness and courage fill the pages of this new publication from the Animal Welfare Institute. The book will speak to all young children, but especially to boys, who are often expected to sublimate their natural love for animals and prove their nascent manhood through acts of cruelty. "I do not think kids can identify with perfect people. All kids do bad things, and they need to know they can move forward, forgive themselves and others, and that we can all become great, each in our own way," Hamanaka explained.

We greatly appreciate the Roy A. Hunt Foundation and the Kenneth A. Scott Charitable Trust, a Key Bank Trust, for their generous support in making this project possible.

 

Please visit AWI Publications for more information!