CLSC Young Readers Study “Pax” by Sara Pennypacker

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How do you measure the impact of war? Is it enough to count the victories and loses?

Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, explores the effects of human destruction on everything — even animals -— through the eyes of a young boy and a fox displaced by war.

CLSC Young Readers will learn the importance of repairing damage to the environment as they discuss Pax, the Week Eight CLSC Young Readers selection at 4:15 p.m. August 17 at the Children’s School campus, where they will put the finishing touches on a monarch butterfly waystation with supervisor of gardens and landscapes Betsy Burgeson.081716_pax

Matt Ewalt, associate director of education and youth services, said when it came time to plan an event for Pax, he immediately recalled Week Nine of last season when Burgeson and her team showed young readers how important their work in landscaping is to the community.

The waystation, located behind the school, is part of a larger, ongoing project led by the Bird, Tree & Garden Club.

“It will be a reminder of the kinds of connections on the grounds, from the way in which we as humans impact the environment, to the impact of a built environment on the natural environment here,” Ewalt said. “I hope it’s a reminder of our need to pick our heads up and remember that network of life beyond ourselves and the way in which our actions affect that environment.”

He said Pax shows the impact man can have on the world, as all our actions have consequences.

“[War] is the unfortunate footprint that man has had throughout our history,” he said.

The way Pennypacker leaves the story’s setting ambiguous makes it relatable to different generations of readers from all over the world.

“This could have been any community, anywhere,  in any decade,” said Karen Schiavone, education assistant for Special Studies and youth services.

Citing an excerpt from the book, Schiavone said the story inspires thoughts on all the small impacts that a war could have.

In line with the theme of Week Eight, the book explores a darker side of humanity that many people today feel disconnected from, according to Ewalt.

“No other book got me from the very first page,” Ewalt said. “There’s a simplicity in the structure, of going back and forth between [the fox] Pax and [the boy] Peter that brings you into the story, and yet, [the author] does not shy away from the brutal honesty of the world in which the characters live.”

He hopes the book can teach young readers that there are children in the world today that are affected by war, and some of those children may go to the same schools that they do.

“This book is most striking in the way it can reach young readers whose families may in fact not be touched by the effects of war,” Ewalt said. “That’s one of the issues we will be confronting this week with the lecture platform; the kind of distance that now exists between military families and whole generations of families that may feel unaffected.”

Andrew Manzella

The author Andrew Manzella

Andrew Manzella is a reporter and feature writer from western New York. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in journalism from SUNY Buffalo State.