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The First Day of Peace

The First Day of Peace

Illustrated by Tatiana Gardel


The First Day of Peace

About the Book

In a new picture book presented by the Peace Studio and its cofounder Maya Soetoro-Ng, author Todd Shuster and illustrator Tatiana Gardel offer a moving modern parable highlighting the wondrous power of kindness and sharing.

Season after season, the mountain people give life to their crops with water from the river, while the valley people use water from a nearby lake to nourish their fields. Despite their similarities, neither allows the other to seek water on their land—instead, they exchange harsh words, and when drought descends, they come to blows. But when the hottest summer yet brings torrential downpours, the waters overflow and trap the valley people. A wise mountain girl sees their plight and says, “We need to help.”

Featuring an afterword by Maya Soetoro-Ng, The First Day of Peace is a fable for a time when many parents and children are deeply worried about our warming planet. At once timeless and timely, it sheds light on the importance of protecting the environment and of sharing rather than fighting over the earth’s precious natural resources. Todd Shuster’s lyrical writing is brought to vivid life by Tatiana Gardel’s rich and luminous illustrations in a story for everyone who hopes for love, justice, and peace across all mountains and valleys.

Product Details

On sale: August 8, 2023
Age: 4-8 years
Grade: Preschool - 3
Page count: 32 Pages
ISBN: 9781536207590

Author Bio

Todd Shuster is an author, literary agent, and film producer. He is a co-CEO of Aevitas Creative Management and a cofounder of the Peace Studio, which seeks to assist a global community of artists and journalists in building a culture of peace. The First Day of Peace is his picture book debut. He lives in New York City.

Maya Soetoro-Ng works as a peace educator at the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawai'i. She also helps to develop Asia-Pacific leadership and global girls’ education programs with the Obama Foundation. Inspired by her two delightful daughters, Maya Soetoro-Ng is the author of the picture book Ladder to the Moon and of the forthcoming young adult novel Yellowwood. She is a cofounder of the nonprofits Ceeds of Peace, the Institute for Climate and Peace, and the Peace Studio.

Tatiana Gardel is a Brazilian-born illustrator whose work has been recognized by the Society of Illustrators in New York and American Illustration. Her art is inspired by her culture, by her love for nature, and by mythology and childhood memories. She is a cofounder of #LatinxPitch and lives in New York City with her family.


One brave act of kindness can be a catalyst for peace. . . . Shuster and Soetoro-Ng present the lesson of the golden rule in, fittingly, the form of a parable.
—Kirkus Reviews

The natural tableaus suit the tale’s pacifistic mood, and the daughter of the mountain child’s benevolent gesture makes for a particularly striking scene, with swirling green foliage gently urging the reader’s eye to take a leap of faith from her hand over a verdant cliff.
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

A beautiful and inspiring parable of kindness, sharing, and the power every child has to make the world a better place. A must-read for children everywhere.
—GRACE BYERS, actress, children’s advocate, and author of the #1 New York Times best-selling picture book I Am Enough

Peace is an abstract idea often hard for young children to grasp, but through the story of the mountain and valley people, children can see what peace looks like as the characters reconcile and discover joy and meaning in connection. While conflict is a familiar part of kids’ lives and natural to their thinking, they need stories like this one to show them how to move beyond conflict to peaceful resolution. If we can help children connect this story to their own experiences, it will help them bring peace-building practices into their own lives.
—Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author of Taking Back Childhood and child policy advocate at Defending the Early Years