Watermelons Not War

watermelon not warWatermelons Not War!
Cloud, Deegan, Evans, Imam, and Signer

Evidently the authors felt that it was important for parents to talk to children about possible nuclear annihilation. For context, nuclear accidents and war were constantly in the news at the time. Many respected doctors and educators were talking about how children at this time were experiencing a lot of anxiety about war. I looked through this book and really couldn’t see the point. Of course children are anxious. So was I, and every other kid that hid under a desk in case the big one came. I am not sure why talking about fruit and war helps, but I will keep an open mind. Maybe writing a letter to President Reagan is a good idea. I don’t know. This book feels a bit ridiculous. (I would actually rather the read the Nuclear War Fun Book.) There are lots of things in this world I can’t explain. I gave up trying sometime in the mid 1990s when I started working in a public library and my kindergartner asked me why everyone was mad about President Clinton and that girl with the blue dress.


back cover

alphabet poem about fruit and war

nuclear war and children

nuclear realities

letter to president reagan


  1. This is very odd. Rather than explain or reassure children about the Cold War, it would seem to rivet the idea of nuclear disaster into children’s minds. The ABCs look like something that would show up in National Lampoon of the time.

    The book may have seemed like a good idea at the time. Now, it just seems to verge on the ghoulish.

  2. “Eggplants not epidemics” makes me laugh as someone who works in public health. Especially since in my epidemiology course we had an assignment where we listed what was wrong with a restaurant’s claim that their eggplant Parmesan induced labor.

    1. You have my silent support. There’s an epidemic near me on account of crap people spreading crap claims. in re the book: lightbulbs in the bathtub??

  3. Politicians only pretend to care about children. They really don’t care because kids aren’t old enough to vote. Actually, they care even less than they do about other adults.

  4. Of course children will always be affected by the concerns of their parents. However, I don’t remember a great deal of concern about nuclear war in 1984.

    TMI was back in 1976 and Chernobyl wouldn’t happen until 1986. Even in the UK hardly anyone remembered the Windscale disaster of 1957.

    I was a young teen during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. People back then were rightly concerned about nuclear war with good reason. Once that was resolved I was pretty certain that, so long as sane people were in charge, nuclear war wasn’t going to happen.

  5. I left school (in the UK) a year before this book was published. It was a common belief amongst people of my age that we would die in a nuclear war of some kind. The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was very active and the UK government’s Protect and Survive films were prominent in the later 1970s and early 1980s. And, given the famous near miss of 26 September 1983, we weren’t that far wrong.

  6. Hey! Good news!
    When you fire a 20 Mt bomb at Boston, there wouldn’t be much fallout!
    You want to do an airburst to knock down as many buildings as possible. That means the 1.4 million dead would be because of blast and fire.


    Oddly, there wasn’t really any “prepare for nuclear war” education here in West Germany at the time. Maybe that was a sort of fatalism. With all the tactical nukes aimed here, there wasn’t much point. “How far apart are the town in Germany?” “Oh, a few kilotons.”

  7. I wish someone had reassured me about nuclear war in the 1980s. I had a lot of anxiety about it. There was a lot of talk on the news about nuclear weapons and the arms race, and even popular movies fiddled with the idea. Made-fors especially explored the idea of some type of war involving nuclear weapons with varying consequences. Nuclear mutants were popular “monsters” at the time.
    I’m not saying I’m sure this book would have helped, but it would have been nice to have an open dialogue. I bet a lot of other kids were scared, too.

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