Saturday, February 20, 2010

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon

An artist must have a distinctive, memorable style for my seven-year-old to recognize the similarities between illustrations in different books.

“Dad, can we read All the World?”

“Sure, Bud. Climb aboard.”

So up on my lap he hops, we crack open the book, and he says, “Is this by the same person who did A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever?” (At the same time I was thinking, “That little girl on the front could be Clementine at age five if she had red hair.”)

So congratulations to Marla Frazee. Seven-year-olds in Wisconsin recognize your distinctive style, and their parents appreciate how it so engages their seven-year-olds.

But let’s not give short shrift to Liz Garton Scanlon’s text. All the World, written in verse, shows the smallest parts of our world and our selves and slowly moves outward to reveal how each of us and each of the small parts around us fit into the world as a whole.

“Rock, stone, pebble, sand …” starts the first page showing two siblings on the beach.
“Body, shoulder arm, hand …” continues page two, showing how the siblings interact with the beach.
“A moat to dig, a shell to keep …” is read as the perspective moves to see Mom, Dad, and the truck waiting to take them home.
“All the world is wide and deep.” So finishes the first rhyme.

In the final illustration of the first rhyme, readers can now see the ocean, the shore, others on the beach, the family truck whisking the family down a dusty road toward the village in the distance. From two kids and a bucket of rocks to the entire ocean, All the World shows how all the small parts make up the whole.

Neighbors in a garden change to an entire vegetable market. One child hanging on a branch becomes a family picnic under a tree. “Table, bowl, cup, spoon” becomes a warm, crowded restaurant on a cool night.

But in the end, the pattern changes. All the World moves from the big picture back toward each individual. The book concludes with

“Hope and peace and love and trust
All the world is all of us.”

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