“I need more books!”
I told my mom one day. My daughter was eight or nine months old and just starting to show a real interest in books. My mom, an author with an MA in Children’s Lit herself, was sure to have some excellent recommendations for me.
Within a couple days a box of books showed up at my doorstep, including All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Marla Frazee.
All the World is a beautiful picture book and a much-read bedtime story in our home. Liz Garton Scanlon’s calming couplets are like a soothing lullaby set to Frazee’s peaceful illustrations as we follow a circle of family and friends throughout their day. We watch as they dig moats at the beach, run from the rain, play music with loved ones and more until finally, they settle down to bed.
The book revolves around its many-layered title – “all the world” – as we learn things like “All the world is wide and deep,” and “All the world is old and new.” “All the world is you and me” and ultimately, “All the world is all of us.”
Now, according to my mom (who heard the story at a writers’ conference from Frazee herself), when Scanlon first submitted her work to Little Simon of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing she was relatively unknown in the children’s publishing world. Little Simon’s editors, however, quickly realized just how special her text was and snatched it right up.
Foreseeing how powerful Scanlon’s words could be with the right illustrations, they brought on the award winning Marla Frazee as illustrator. They were incredibly careful in how they broke up Scanlon’s poem, where they placed page turns, etc. They wanted to get things just right.
Frazee’s incredible artwork inspired by northern California landscapes was added to enhance the story and All the World was born.
Both beautiful to the eye and to the ear, All the World went on to receive a Caldecott Honor Award, runner for the most prestigious award given to picture books each year.
One of the many things I love about Marla Frazee’s illustrations is their rich detail. Frazee celebrates children’s vast picture literacy by weaving intricate details into her illustrations to challenge and engage them. My mom said she encourages parents and educators not to turn the page too fast, when reading picture books, but to instead give children time to study the images and soak up the details. In an article from the Horn Book, Frazee explains,
While the words in picture books are meant to be read aloud, children can read the pictures on their own. They don’t need to be taught this skill and are, in fact, way better at it than grownups.” She continues, “…Because this picture-reading skill is one that seems to reside mostly in childhood, the intricacies to be found in pictures (and the way these intricacies weave themselves in with the words) often remain unseen by those of us who are no longer children… Unfortunately, many picture books are published without enough of the visual-narrative richness and depth that children are so capable of finding.
Recognizing children’s incredible visual skills, Frazee works hard to include “visual-narrative richness and depth” in all of her illustrations. (hint: read the whole article for a couple examples – both the All the World and Where the Wild Things Are examples BLEW MY MIND! I’ve read of those books hundreds of times and never noticed!). They tell their own story alongside the text and make the story even more engrossing for the child to read.
“Wait! I need that book! I’m writing about it!” I told my husband the other night as I saw him pick up All the World on his way into our daughter’s room for bedtime. “Awww I was going to read it to her tonight. It’s a good last book for the night,” he complained. We absolutely adore All the World in our home. We’ve found that if we deliberately read the text in a calm, soothing voice, it does wonders to help our daughter settle down for the night. My mom even read her straight to sleep with it once.