Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol

by Michael G Long (Author) Carlos Vélez (Illustrator)

Three Lines in a Circle: The Exciting Life of the Peace Symbol
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

One line straight down. One line to the right. One line to the left, then a circle. That was all--just three lines in a circle.

This bold picture book tells the story of the peace symbol--designed in 1958 by a London activist protesting nuclear weapons--and how it inspired people all over the world. Depicting the symbol's travels from peace marches and liberation movements to the end of apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Three Lines in a Circle offers a message of inspiration to today's children and adults who are working to create social change. An author's note provides historical background and a time line of late twentieth-century peace movements.

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Kirkus Reviews

Grounded in the discussion of a design, the heart of peace beats on.

Publishers Weekly

Long (Troublemaker for Justice) recounts the origins of the peace sign for a new generation of young activists in this brief history of a now-ubiquitous symbol. In 1958, British graphic designer and peace activist Gerald Holtom created the simple design--three lines in a circle--for a 50-mile march to protest nuclear weapons. An endnote explains that the lines represent a combination of semaphore letters for N and D, standing for "nuclear disarmament." Succinct free verse describes how the humble insignia began populating protest movements around the globe, "standing for/ peace/ for all/ and especially for" marginalized folks, including "Black people/ and/ Brown people/ women/ and/ poor people/ LGTBQ+ people/ and/ people with disabilities." The soft textures and rich hues of artist Vélez's illustrations recall 1960s art, for example that of U.S. anti-war protests. Crowds of variously inclusive protestors fill colorful culminating spreads, the peace logo displayed on banners, quilts, and signs. In four stark white circles that pop against this backdrop, the author enumerates current social movements ("Peace and BLACK LIVES MATTER!"), bringing the narrative to the present-day. In an empowering ending, Holtom hands off his symbol to today's youth. Back matter offers a much more detailed history of the peace symbol plus a recent protest timeline. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Vibrant throngs of all kinds of people fill the pages . . . Grounded in the discussion of a design, the heart of peace beats on. —Kirkus Reviews

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
August 20, 2021

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