Saturday, February 13, 2010

Peacebuilders: Daisaku Ikeda & Josei Toda, Buddhist Leaders

Peacebuilders: Daisaku Ikeda & Josei Toda, Buddhist Leaders: A biography by M. LaVora Perry ARC
Forest Hill Publishing, LLC

Release date; March 16, 2010

Rating: 4/5

IQ "Sometimes we lose in life, but that doesn't mean we'll always lose." Josei Toda pg. 36

So I'm really not sure how to review an early reader biography. This is my first such review so bear with me, it's going to be basic because I think there is only so much you can say. But if you think I can say more, leave a comment telling me so and I will edit this review to include it, I definitely want feedback on this one.

First a word about the publisher, Forest Hill Publishing. Forest Hill Publishing looks for stories about organ and tissue transplants. They also only accept stories about Buddhism and its principles which I think is pretty neat (how many publishing companies for children can you think of that publish about a religion in a non-preachy way?).

I finished this book feeling satisfied and at peace. There's something about reading about the beauty, calmness and peacefulness of the Buddhism religion that always puts me at ease (OK so I've never heard another book about Buddhism exclusively, but I have read books that touch upon the subject and I have attended a few services). The story of Daisaku Ikeda & Josei Toda is told in a factual, non preachy way. The author is not trying to convert people to Buddhism, she simply wants to share the history of her faith.

Josei Toda was the second president of Soka Gaaki (a Buddhist organization in Japan) and he was mentor and teacher extraordinaire to Daisaku Ikeda who is the current leader of the SGI (Soka Gakkai International, the world's largest Buddhist organization). Mr. Ikeda would not be the respected and revered leader he is today without the guidance of Mr. Toda. Mr. Ikeda took an organization that Mr. Toda really helped to build and increase membership from Japan to all over the world. Japan was the foundation, Mr. Ikeda became the third president of the SG after Mr. Toda died and expanded SG into the U.S., Canada and Brazil, thus creating SGI. Mr. Ikeda is an amazing man, he works hard to promote peace (every year he sends the U.N. a proposal for world peace and the removal of all nuclear weapons!) and he has met many famous people (including Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Corazon Aquino). He is a true inspiration.

There were some confusing parts in the book, for example the first half of the book is about the story of Mr. Ikeda and Mr. Toda, and the second part is about their history, it's essentially the same thing and I think that could be combined. Also, in the beginning it wasn't clear during what war Daisaku lived through, it wasn't until the end of the book when I got to the timeline did I realized it was WWII (which I suspected but it could have been another war in Japan that I didn't know about). The author makes good use of images that help readers visualize both men and their Japan.

This story is quite accessible to all young readers I think they will read it and learn something. It's not funny but there are some light-hearted moments and I think this book can help promote tolerance and understanding of the Buddhist beliefs. We need more books like this that help explain about faith and the leaders of the religion in a way that people can understand and not feel as if that religion is being shoved down their throat, it helps promote global awareness in our young and that is something society desperately needs. ages 8-11

Note: I will most likely not review another early reader book. This has nothing to do with this book, more to do with the reading level. Interesting story but the wording and concepts was too simple (perfect for the intended audience though!)

"A great inner change in just a single person will...enable a change in the destiny of all humankind." Daisaku Ikeda (Wonderful quote!)

Disclosure: Received from the author, thank you LaVora!


  1. Thanks for this! I am happy to hear there is something out there t help young people learn about the history of this wonderful practice.

  2. Ari,
    I'm going to read your review after I read this one myself. It does look like it would be good to give this one to older students who read at a lower reading level. There aren't enough books like this for them!

  3. Thanks for your balanced and thoughtful review, Ari! I heard you, BTW. Thanks to you, when PEACEBUILDERS comes out in March, a mention of "World War Two" will be right up front!

    And I do hope PB becomes a reference book for folks who read at all levels as campbele mentioned. -LaVora

  4. Hi Ari, great review! :)

    I read the book and noticed the late mention of WWII as well, but after reflection it didn't bother me that much. I thought that at that point of the story, and with all the wars going on, a child from any countries could pick up the book and relate by applying it to its own situation, which is more difficult to do when it is initially presented as an event singled out in a particular region and in the past... :)

    That said, it seems as if that issue will be solved soon enough. :)

  5. This sounds neat - I'll have to check it out. Hinduism sounds fantastic as well.


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