John Lennon's opening chords are unmistakable, and the lyrics are familiar worldwide: "Imagine there's no heaven./ It's easy if you try." Countless artists have covered the haunting utopian anthem, and now human rights organization Amnesty International joins the ranks with a picture book illustrated by French graphic artist Jean Jullien.

In the first scene, the earnest-looking gray bird steps off a crowded subway and embarks on a journey. Along the way, it encounters a variety of birds, all of which seem to need comfort. Seagulls stop their squabbling over a fish when the pigeon shares its message ("Nothing to kill or die for"). A rainbow of songbirds find shelter under its wings ("I hope some day you'll join us"). And a pair of fighting hummingbirds make peace after it dive-bombs them with love ("Imagine no possessions").

A robin's-egg blue background predominates in Imagine, making the childlike depictions of birds and flowers pop. The boldly outlined pigeon is appealingly evocative of Mo Willems's pigeon. Jullien (Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise; Before & After; This Is Not a Book), whose work includes illustration, photography, video, costumes, installations and books, also created the Peace for Paris symbol after the terror attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015.

Repackaging the beloved song in a picture book format is a brilliant way to bring much-needed attention back to the simple goal of "living life in peace." After all, Lennon reminds us, music, art and peace have the power to change the world. The sentiment comes at a time when it is needed more than ever: released on the International Day of Peace, Imagine will likely be welcomed by people of all ages and backgrounds. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Powered by: Xtenit