Susan Stewart
August 17, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Peace Is the World Smiling

Current Status
In Season
Various Artists
Music for Little People
Kids and Family

We gave it an A-

When we were children, did our parents try this hard to make us politically correct? No, and look at the shape the world’s in. Actually, preaching to kids is as old as having them; only the methods change. We went to Sunday school; kids today listen to theme tapes such as the ambitious Peace.

This all-star collection of 16 songs features Pete Seeger singing ”If I Had a Hammer” (now there’s a peace song from my generation), a subdued Taj Mahal, and cheery Linda Arnold on the syrupy ”Find a Peaceful Thought.” Between songs, kids recite poems such as ”Recipe for Peace,” which includes lines like ”Knead the gladness until soft/Stir the trust and caring.” And gag me with a wooden spoon, but not before I admit that a 6-year-old would like this. Peace was not tested at home: My 2-year-old’s idea of a peace lyric is ”Stop that or I’ll spank you.”

Peace delivers its pacifist message — quoting Kahlil Gibran and calling for disarmament — and in one moment, it does more: An old woman tells the powerful Indian legend of the Peace Feather, a lesson in trust. Then we segue into Holly Near’s haunting ”Voices”: ”Listen to the voices of the old women .the voices of the Indian Nations.” In an instant, Peace has gone beyond its gentle diatribe; it has created atmosphere. A-

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