You know the feeling when you read a book and you want everyone you know to read it—right now? Well, that’s how I feel about All the World, a new picture book by poet Liz Garton Scanlon and artist Marlee Frazee. This oversized paean to living life right here and now has grabbed me in a way that few books have lately. By the time I let my husband read it, I had already read it three times, just because it made me feel so happy.
Told in rhyming couplets, Scanlon’s story of a day in the life of Every Family is just the antidote for the cynicism of the times. “Rock, stone, pebble, sand / Body, shoulder, arm, hand / A moat to dig, a shell to keep / All the world is wide and deep.” So opens this story of a loving family, a supportive community and the beauty of the day. Frazee’s illustrations show various figures buying produce at a farmer’s market, playing at a park, eating in a cozy local café, playing music together and, finally, safe at rest. At the center of each picture and couplet are relationships—between couples, parents and children, and neighbors. A careful look at the illustrations allows the reader to follow each set of characters—including the multiracial family with two kids, the two women on bicycles, the older couple, the man with his yellow dog—from start to finish. Gentle foreshadowing also lets the reader see what’s coming next. One stunning double-page spread shows the whole town—and the whole landscape of the story—at rest. Young readers can trace the story from the beginning at the beach in the west all the way to the pier in the east.
This oversized volume is a statement of what all people really need to be human. The needs of the characters are the needs of everyone everywhere—food, recreation, companionship, music, land, a safe place to play, imagination, love and, most of all, community.
All the way through, a gentle lullaby of words tells the tale: “Hope and peace and love and trust / All the world is all of us.”
I think I’ll go read it again.
Robin Smith is a second-grade teacher in Nashville.