Liz Garton Scanlon's All the World
illustrated by Marla Frazee
Children's book review by Steve Barancik
A day without electronics!
I first read this book, I knew I was experiencing something special but
I struggled to put words to it. Then a two page spread near the end,
rendered by illustrator Frazee (who won a 2010 Caldecott Honor for her
efforts), clarified things for me.
Here's what I took away from the illustration and my reading:
The world itself contains more than enough to keep us entertained. Don't let your iPhone or Xbox convince you otherwise.
As you can see (though you might need a magnifying glass!), the aforementioned illustration features an extended, multi-generational family gathered in a large room.
It's clearly a contemporary gathering, but aside from an electric lamp or two, this could be a 19th century get-together.
Three musically inclined family members play non-electric instruments (piano, violin, and harp), and the rest are either enjoying the concert or entertaining themselves.
The rest of the book features the day's activities as enjoyed by the various family members. A trip to the beach, a trip to a farm, time spent with a huge climbing tree.
Simple but profound pleasures. A celebration of the outdoors.
Author Scanlon, as much an artist as Frazee, paints a rhyming collage of words more than a narrative.
When bad weather intrudes on our family, they take refuge in a small cafe, behind a wooden door, serving simple food with fresh cut flowers on the tables. Cold and hunger are quickly overcome. Review continues.
Hive, bee, wings, hum
Husk, cob, corn,
Fruit so red
All the world's a garden bed.
The book revels in small moments - hugs and kisses, the smell of food cooking, brushing teeth together.
Family connecting with family, rather than someone at the other end of a wireless connection.
The sharp-eyed will find one child talking on a telephone, but hey, that is a 19th century invention after all, and as she hugs her teddy bear we can only assume she's talking to loved ones far away.
The overwhelming charm of All the World is in its depiction of happy people doing simple things together. Don't just read it; take inspiration from it.
Webmaster's note: John Rocco's Blackout is an urban celebration of an unexpected break from electronica. Read our review.
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