All the Water in the World Hardcover – Mar 22 2011
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* "Lots of picture books introduce young children to the water cycle, but few have such an infectious beat and eye-catching illustrations as this title, which begs to be read aloud. With occasional rhymes, the short, poetic lines are conversational and instructive and evoke a sense of mystery.... What kids will respond to immediately, though, are the noisy, delicious sounds and rhythms in the words as well as the kinetic energy in the beautifully composed, atmospheric digital illustrations, which have the richly patterned and textured look of paint-and-paper collage. Playfully arranged type in changing fonts adds to the visual fun while giving cues for energizing read-alouds. On the final, stunning spreads, a mother’s hair swirls into a wave of water that becomes a joyful spiral of living creatures, all reinforcing the simple, profound message: our lives depend on 'so precious' water."
--BOOKLIST, March 15, 2011, *STAR
* “Lyon briefly explains the water cycle in lyrical verse and celebrates its power to give life... The digital collage like illustrations pair dramatically with the text to depict this contrast. Turquoise endpapers usher in pages with swirls of water, water spouting from a hose, through pipes, down mountains. Rain pours down in horizontal and vertical spreads. But brown and cream-colored pages reveal a bare landscape where a little girl and animals alike anxiously anticipate an approaching rain cloud. At last, “this wet wonder” arrives and flows through all creatures, including a young child and mother whose water-sprinkled hair spreads across the pages to become a swirl of tiny creatures and plants. “Honey, living things dream of water...so precious,” says the narrator. We must “keep it clear, keep it clean… keep Earth green!” Filled with rhythm and sound, this offering begs to be read aloud.”
--School Library Journal, May 2011, *STAR
“Lyon celebrates the essence of life itself in a lyrical presentation of the water cycle…Meanwhile, in sweeping, digitally rendered art resembling watercolor and collage, Tillotson creates luxuriant ocean swirls and pelting streaks of rain…It’s a familiar subject but a vital one, to which author and illustrator bring a passion and artistry that give it the power of story.”
--The Horn Book Magazine, May/June 2011
"This book totally immerses the reader in the water cycle. From blue end papers and thrashing water on the title page, we’re taken to a view of the tiny blue planet Earth from space. From space, the author moves to the familiar: water coming from a hose, puddles, and a cup of water. The author explains the water cycle using a wealth of vocabulary quite artfully and effectively. You feel the words. Evaporation is shown by having the words “swirl up” and rise up the page from the sea. The use of blues, purples, and greens to convey wetness is quite effective, as is the use of browns and beige depicting a place where very little water is available. There is total integration of illustration and text. A child reading this book will understand the water cycle, and that they need to be good water stewards. This is a good science read-aloud for the primary grades."
- Library Media Connection, October 2011
About the Author
George Ella Lyon is the author of Trucks Roll! and Planes Fly! Now, Boats Float!, cowritten with her son Benn, adds a new mode of transport to this travel series. Among George Ella’s other books are the ALA Notable All the Water in the World and What Forest Knows. A novelist and poet, she lives with her family in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her online at GeorgeEllaLyon.com.
Katherine Tillotson is the illustrator of several children’s books, including All the Water in the World, Shoedog, and It’s Picture Day Today. Ms. Tillotson lives in San Francisco with her husband. Visit her at KatherineTillotson.com.
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You get a pretty good sense of author George Ellen Lyon's writing style the minute you notice that the title is part of the book's first sentence. On the title page you'll read "All the water in the world" and then when you turn the page you encounter " . . . is all the water in the world." So right there you've handed child readers an oddly Zen but true sentence. Let `em chew on it a while and try to find a loophole. If they start talking about water from space then you start teaching a space unit as well, or maybe a vocabulary lesson where you determine what "in the world" really means. For the record, the book is full of these little verbal riddles. "Water doesn't come. It goes. Around." I sort of love that. I also love "that rain has been here before," setting up the idea of things circling around and around until something somewhere goes wrong. Lyon is a poet in her own right so while she's discussing matters of the material world she's still not afraid to throw in some delicious language. "Thirsty air / licks it from lakes / sips it from ponds / guzzles it from oceans . . ." How many books about the water cycle make you want to read them over and over again? Not too many, honey. Not too many.
I've a low didacticism tolerance, even when the message being conveyed is one I believe in. And different lessons become trendy over the years. Early American children's books used to convey dull tales of morality in the hopes of shaping their young readers' ethics. Some books in the 20th century sought to reinforce social mores and then, later, to break them down. These days the hot topics you'll find in a large swath of books for kids are anti-bullying screeds and environmental messages. Both are worthy subjects of titles for kids, but of the books published I'd say a good 90% are simply awful. You've probably seen them. They're the kinds of books that make the Berenstain Bears look subtle in comparison. So part of what I appreciated so much about "All the Water in the World" was that while the environmental message is there (the last three words in the book are "keep Earth green!" after all) it's introduced subtly and naturally into the text. You can't talk about water without talking about what's happening to it around the globe, after all. Not even in a picture book. But rather than straight out say to kids the obvious "pollution is bad" message, Lyon is clever enough to show the vast use of water, who it helps, what it does, and so on. That way, when she gets to the end and says we should keep it clean and the Earth green, kids already understand why. For that reason this book would actually pair rather nicely with the equally curriculum-friendly "Coral Reefs" by Jason Chin.
I don't know why it took so long for an editor to realize that Ms. Tillotson's kinetic art is perfect for nonfiction subject matter. Until now she's done lovely work on books like "When the Library Lights Go Out" and "It's Picture Day Today!" but "All the Water in the World" feels like a step in a different direction. Like "It's Picture Day Today" there's life and energy to the art, but there's something else going on there. Purpose. Now Tillotson's images have the dual purpose of entertaining and informing. She takes up the challenge readily, causing water droplets to form shapes of deer and children in the spaces between their flow. Thirsty air now has a form and the sudden vertical two-page spread that forces readers to turn their books contains such a convincing downpour that you'll half believe your fingers will grow damp when you touch it. I don't think I was the only one to be shocked when I reached the publication information at the book's end and discovered that the art here is entirely digital. Digital? When I think of digital art I think of slick single-color lines and dull shading, not splatters of water turning into snails and squirrels or a mimicry of watercolors that looks like the page itself is rippling. Tillotson masters the electronic form, matching Lyon's poetry page for page, word for word, blow by blow.
I should note that there will be some teachers who find the book insufficient for school assignments. There is no Bibliography at the end. No Afterword. No Glossary of terms. The book shows how the water cycle works, but it does so in a fun artistic way, not a rote scientific one. You won't see graphs with arrows that label each part of the process. You will see rain plucked from oceans, carried over mountains, and rained onto plains, but it feels like it's part of a story not a lesson. For that reason I really feel the book should be a vital part of every library system. Anyone can stuff facts onto a page. To make the material sing takes a special hand or two. And as luck would have it, four special hands from two talented women came together to create this little gem of a book. If you're looking to give a gift to a child but you want to hand them something informative rather than the fiction you've been giving out all these years, give "All the Water in the World" a shot. It's a hoot and a beaut. Poetry and nonfiction and art all coming together to make everybody happy.
For ages 4-8.
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