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soup of the day: all the world!

"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." ~ William Blake (Auguries of Innocence, 1803).

"Finding Treasure" by paigek.

It's time to grab our sand buckets and take a little stroll along the beach!

We can bask in the sun's warmth and delight in the gentle ocean breeze. Friends, breathe deeply of the salty air, and make a mental note of September 8, 2009, the official publication date for All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee -- because it's not every day we are gifted with this particular brand of picture book perfection!

ALL THE WORLD by Liz Garton Scanlon, pictures by Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books, 2009), All ages, 40 pp.

*busting my seams, bursting with joy, drowning in my big, big love for this book*

The first time I read All the World, it totally took my breath away. Though I've read many wonderful picture books this year that got me excited and won my everlasting enthusiasm, this one brought me to my knees. I thought, "Whoa. Now here's a book that's definitely in a class of its own. It takes excellence to a whole new level." This rarely happens, but you know it when you see it -- that timeless quality, the makings of a classic. And of course, you're thinking, Caldecott.

In a mere 200 words, through lyrical rhyming couplets, Liz celebrates the big, wide world and all of humankind. She names the little and the large, the simple and profound, each carefully chosen word a luminous pearl in a pitch perfect string:

(click to enlarge)

Rock, stone, pebble, sand
Body, shoulder, arm, hand
A moat to dig, a shell to keep
All the world is wide and deep.

She holds up for our observation and contemplation nothing less than the sea and sky, sun and rain, bees humming, plants growing, birds flying, children frolicking, music playing, people simply being together and relishing every moment. It seems simple on the surface, a way to live in this world, learning to love it up close and from far away. She has distilled the essence of a personal and global vision, a theme of harmony and interconnection shimmering through the beautiful cadence of her poetry. Each time you read the text, your heart beats anew, the earth shifts a little on its axis; you are invited to join in the joyous rhythm of life.

The best way I can describe the art in this book is to say that Marla Frazee took a pure melody and caressed it with full orchestration -- warm, engaging, textural, lustrous. Her pencil and watercolor illustrations, a brilliant visual narrative, follows an interracial family of four from morning till night, as they build sandcastles and collect shells at the beach, buy flowers at a nearby farmer's market, sail a boat in a pond, dodge a sudden rainstorm, enjoy supper in a cozy café, and then join family and friends for a rousing sing-a-long before going to bed.

(click to enlarge)

This warm, welcoming world, small enough to traverse by red pickup, is also populated by characters representative of the world at-large: we see other families, couples, singles, young, old, a few ages in between, and people of many colors -- some of whom appear in various spreads either by themselves or in interactions with the central family. Marla shifts her perspective to great effect, alternating between intimate vignettes of parent/child, person/animal, friend/friend, brother/sister, and expansive views depicting the grandeur of the planet. Spreads are ingeniously linked together; the corner of one vista becomes the focus of the next; everything and everyone is part of the circle of humanity. And if that wasn't enough, Marla hand-lettered the entire text; words tilt and sway, rise and fall, posturing themselves with a life and personality all their own.

The café in the book, where soup and muffins are consumed, was based on the Phantom Ranch Cantina, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon (photo by Irwin3637).
Marla says this was a deeply personal work; most of the objects hold special meaning, such as the mulberry tree her grandfather planted, the beach ball left out in the rain, her own orange Honda Fit with her dog, Rocket, in the front seat leaving the farmer's market.

Together, Liz and Marla have created a work that stands alone in its ability to amaze and inspire. It represents the perfect marriage of words and art. It leaves the reader feeling whole, appreciative of what is sacred in the everyday, and uplifted by the knowledge that his/her place in the world, however small, does indeed count for something. Quite simply, All the World is all you'd ever want in a picture book, more than you could have ever dreamed. As Kelly Fineman put it, "it's a work of epic beauty inside a picture book package."

photo by paigek.

The accolades have been flooding in: four *starred reviews* thus far from Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal, Horn Book Magazine, and Kirkus. Horn Book has compared Liz's text to the work of Margaret Wise Brown, Kirkus calls the book, "At once a lullaby and an invigorating love song of nature, families, and interconnectedness," and School Library Journal deemed it "perfection." All the World is also in the Autumn 2009 Kids' Indie Next List Top Ten. A perfect read aloud, appropriate for all ages, of course I give it my highest FIVE SPOON RATING

I hope you still have your beach gear on, because now it's time to dive into our special bowl of celebration soup. Please indulge in whatever suits your fancy -- backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke, freestyle. If the spirit moves you, dog paddle or snorkel! Just make sure you come up for air long enough to shout your congratulations to Liz and Marla!

Today's Special: Hungry Tummy Soup (seasoned liberally with hope, peace, love and trust. Delicious hot or cold).

To go with your soup, please have a muffin (just like in the book):

photo by music pb.

Of course I haven't forgotten dessert. Help yourself to a seashell, starfish or sand dollar cookie:

photo by cookieartisan.

By now, you know the drill: hightail it to your nearest indie or order your copy online. This is one book you'll want a First Edition, First Printing of, so be quick about it! ☺

                                     ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Liz Garton Scanlon official website (with a link to the best Curriculum Guide I've ever seen)! Liz's Live Journal blog, Liz in Ink, can be found here.

Marla Frazee official website.

Simon & Schuster "Behind the Book" page for All the World, featuring Liz and Marla's notes about working on this book.

Online Reviews:

Reading Rumpus
Richie Partington at Library Thing
Through the Looking Glass

My 2008 interview with Marla can be found here.

More Soup of the Day posts here.

**Liz Scanlon will be celebrating the release of All the World on September 26th at Book People, Austin, Texas, 11 a.m.

ETA: You MUST read this fabulous interview with both Liz and Marla at 7-Imp!!

photo by carramled.

*Spreads posted by permission of publisher, Text copyright © 2009 Liz Garton Scanlon, Illustrations © 2009 Marla Frazee (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2009). All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2009 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.



( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 8th, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
You said you couldn't do it, but you did! :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
I tried my best, but feel I still didn't do justice to the book. You can't really explain something that's so perfect in and of itself. :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 12:29 pm (UTC)
five spoons!
That's a lot of joy there, Jama!
Thanks for spreading it! If the book makes me as happy as your post, that's a winner for sure.
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
Re: five spoons!
Oh, could you tell I liked the book :D?

Seriously. This one is IT for me. Can't stop swooning!
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:23 pm (UTC)
That book looks just lovely. I love couplets too. Thanks for the recommendation. I want to read it to my children!!
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:27 pm (UTC)
You will LOVE it, Kelly!!
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:24 pm (UTC)
Brilliantly well-done, Jama. I am nervous about the thick blue soup, but otherwise I heartily applaud absolutely everything about this post.

I know it was difficult to write - I'm still trying to find a way to actually talk about it (but I'm glad you liked my short line - it may be the only thing I can come up with!), and I'm truly considering saying "I second what Jama said." Love the Blake quote to start things off. You are a marvel, my friend.
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:30 pm (UTC)
Fear not the blue soup (it's delicious vanilla pudding)! Somehow using tomato reminded me of the Red Sea :D.

Geez. I'm still thinking I didn't come close to "describing" all this book is. It's impossible. I look forward to reading your post!
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC)
AMAZING, Jama! If I love this book as much as I love your post (and I'm sure I will), I will be sending it to friends all over the world.
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Kathy! It's one of those rare gems that carries such timeless, universal truth. It gives me something new each time I read it. :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Kathy, there is pretty much no way you won't LOVE this book. It's almost beyond words, although Jama managed to write it up pretty well.
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Jama, I can't wait to dip into this book now. That's an amazing review---it must be perfect and lovely.
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:53 pm (UTC)
"Perfect" seems to be the word of the day when it comes to this book. It simply is! Thanks for reading this post!! :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 01:51 pm (UTC)
So, you and I are thinking alike today, though I actually didn't figure out today was the *actual* book launch day till I was typing it up. I'm just puh-sychic, I guess.

I agree with you on this book. It makes me think Caldecott, too. It's wonderful.

Sep. 8th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
I checked your blog at 1 a.m. this morning and the interview wasn't up yet (I wanted to link to it). Did you sleep at all last night? :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
"Marla Frazee took a pure melody and caressed it with full orchestration -- warm, engaging, textural, lustrous." Oh, yes, that's it exactly.

What a wide and deep day it is...
Sep. 8th, 2009 03:56 pm (UTC)
Wide and deep and lovely! Truly a banner day for picture book lovers!
Sep. 8th, 2009 02:56 pm (UTC)

Jama... I'm at a loss for words.

And it's not just because my mouth is full of blue pudding, I mean, soup. I'm just thinking I must have done something very good in my earlier incarnations to be treated this beautifully today.

I have to go get a sweater now because you've given me chills all over...

Thank you -- and thank you Anne Marie, Jeannine, Kelly, Kelly, Kathy, Amber, Jules and Sara, for saying what you said.

Counting blessings... Liz
Sep. 8th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
We've YOU to thank, as well as Marla and Liz, for this work of sheer beauty. So pure and radiant!

BTW, the photo of you in the Curriculum Guide is gorgeous!! :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
This post is SO incredibly beautiful, Jama!

I can't wait to read this book!!
Sep. 8th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Lisa. This is definitely a MUST HAVE book. I'm giving away as many as possible to people on my Christmas list. :)
Sep. 8th, 2009 03:21 pm (UTC)
So difficult to describe the quiet overwhelming power of this book -- but you did it.
Thanks for sharing this with us!
Sep. 8th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
"Quiet overwhelming power," yes! Why didn't I think of that? Absolutely right.
Sep. 8th, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
putting this book on hold - Immediately!
Sep. 9th, 2009 01:39 am (UTC)
Sep. 9th, 2009 09:12 am (UTC)
Tanita Says :)
I just got my copy today, and I can't express the tactile experience of having a new picture book, of rubbing my hand across the slick cover, and seeing all the gorgeous, hopeful, peaceful words and pictures I've heard so much about. As a Book Aunt, this is a treasure I know I'll enjoy sharing. What a lovely, celebratory post!
Sep. 9th, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
Re: Tanita Says :)
I hear you! Holding this special book in your hands is wonderfully self-affirming. Great book design overall; love the generous size :)!
Sep. 9th, 2009 12:59 pm (UTC)
As always, a deliciously beautiful post. I love "each carefully chosen word a luminous pearl in a pitch perfect string."

I need one of those amazing cookies, a cup of tea, and to curl up in a comfy chair with this book. William and I are off to the local indy after school. I'm hoping I'll find a copy there.

Thanks for the mighty fine review. You are amazing!
Sep. 9th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tricia. Hope you find a copy today. What a magical, magical book!
Sep. 9th, 2009 03:15 pm (UTC)
Yes, Jama, I think you captured the beauty and wonder that is All the World.
Sep. 9th, 2009 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Tammi. As I was telling Kelly F. the other day, this was the hardest review I've ever written, because my love for the book was so much bigger than my little brain could express.
Sep. 13th, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
Oh between you and Kelly, you said all that needed to be said so much better than I would have been able to do. Thank you. Now I can point people over here.
Sep. 14th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Susan!!
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )

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