Imagine with words by John Lennon, illustration by Jean Jullien and a forward by Yoko Ono Lennon

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 21st 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Source: Raincoast Books

John Lennon’s very famous song Imagine is reimagined (hah) as a picturebook and is released today on the International Day of Peace in partnership with Amnesty International. Fans of the song and of John Lennon will be able to pass on their love to their young children and teach them the message in the book. Imagine is available in all good bookstores.

With that said and because this is The Book Wars where we sometimes post incendiary stuff, let me talk about my thoughts on the song.

First of all, please know that I didn’t grow up know who The Beatles were or being familiar with their songs. As such, I have zero sentimentality attached to their work and I come to their songs with the biases and lived experiences of a POC in Northern America in the 21st century.

Now, I very much agree with the message of peace in Lennon’s song. However, I take issue with some of the lyrics. Considering the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, the Islamophobia in the world, I don’t think having no religion is an answer to the world’s problems. I don’t think that people without land will automatically mean everyone starts to accept everyone else. I do agree that we need to focus a lot of on material goods though I do take umbrage at the not very inclusive “Brotherhood of Man.”

Ultimately, I don’t think that giving up things is going to bring about peace. I am proud of my race, my ethnicity, my nationality, and my religion. I reckon that what we need for peace is open-mindedness and the ability to accept people as people no matter their race, their culture, and their religion.

For those of us experiencing 2017 in brutal ways, acceptance of our differences would be the first step toward peace–whatever shape that may take.

Lennon’s song is very idealistic and you cannot deny that he speaks from a place of privilege.

However, his message is peace and one cannot deny that need for it. One can certainly discuss the way we go about achieving it but THIS is a book review.

So, once again, if you are a fan of The Beatles and John Lennon, you should pick up a copy of this and read it to your child or to yourself. Enjoy it. Just be aware that Lennon’s idea of peace is a bit problematic (in my opinion which I have all right to have and express).

  • Laura Rinaldi

    Having grown up with the Beatles, and having loved this song, it is refreshing to view it from today’s events. True, giving up everything doesn’t necessarily make everything all well and good. And at that point in his life, living in the Dakota, in New York, he was privileged, though he came from humble beginnings.

    Perhaps we need a new rendition of the song, pointing out the things we really need to change, rather than giving everything up.