There are several picture books that tackle difficult subjects and they each have something unique to offer.
My desire was to simplify to its core what is an anything but simple subject so that people can add their own interpretations and apply it to just about any kind of conflict.
Everything in GREEN LIZARDS VS RED RECTANGLES was intentional - the digitally drawn faceless rectangles, the hand drawn characteristic lizards, the death, the life, the hope, the two complimenting colours, the word TRUCE.
WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR and ENOUGH IS ENOUGH are the two statements that really stand out and that was absolutely intentional because what are we/you fighting for and when is 'enough enough' in any kind of altercation, disagreement or war?
It's also an exercise in design, which was initially inspired by '8 Red Rectangles' by Malevich. Even I didn't know how these two entities would visually resolve their differences until the end of drawing this story. And despite it's overall simplistic design, it was not a simple task to populate this book with so many lizards and rectangles. And because of my red-green colourblindness (oh, the irony) I have developed a very effective but very tedious and time-consuming process to render my final illustrations. Let's just say that this is compiled from HUNDREDS of layers in Photoshop. Nor was it easy to work out the visual actions and reactions, but it was fun.
And if you look closely, there are some sad scenes. At one point I actually got really emotional drawing these little reptiles. Each lizard has its own story. If you get this book, really take a good look - A REALLY GOOD LOOK - at all the lizards. They're not all fighting. In fact, most are NOT fighting. And the ones that are fighting are inadvertently hurting other lizards. Hang on, are the rectangles JUST lifeless objects? Are the lizards fighting against themselves without even realising it? You could get really deep with this... I did.
I realise it was a bold move to include a 'death'. But that was the catalyst for the 'biggest war ever'. Often, war is because war was, until someone has the audacity to pose the most direct question of all, or proclaim that enough really is enough. I did intentionally soften this scene by using the word 'squashed'. And, if you look closely, you might spot a little bandaged lizard on every page after the 'squash' so maybe she/he is ok after all. That's up to you.
It's been really great to see how classes have interpreted the book and how they've taken my 'simple' take on war and turned it into a lengthy discussion. I had a really interesting chat about the book with some college teens recently. Why rectangles? Why red? Why green? Why are they fighting? Why are we fighting? One person even suggested that the war started because a lizard and rectangle were in love (they got this from the final 'kiss' scene on the hardback's endpapers).
The book doesn't explain why they are warring or how it all started. I don't know why the war started, I just know they're at war and that war is getting them nowhere.
The two sides are very different from each other but they have one thing in common - the book. Perhaps they are just fighting for space.
I could go on and on about how I important I feel this book is and how it can be as simple or as complex as you would like it to be. Even though it tackles a weighty subject, it's actually quite a fun book, if you want it to be, and could lead to discussions about 'working together'. I know it's not commercial, but I don't care about that. Maybe it will go under the radar. Who knows? I wrote this book because I felt compelled to do so, and I'm really glad that I did.
You can buy the book here, or your fav bookstore, or you can borrow it from your nearest library.