By Author / Illustrator
Joseph Coelho, Ms. Allison Colpoys
Frances Lincoln Publishers Ltd
A moving, lyrical picture book about a young girl's love for her granddad and how she copes when he's gone, written by poet and playwright Joseph Coelho.
This beautifully illustrated, powerful and ultimately uplifting text is the ideal way to introduce children to the concept of death and dying, particularly children who have lost a grandparent.
With Allison Colpoys' gorgeous artwork spilling from each page, accompany a girl and her grandad over spring, summer and autumn. See how he teaches her to imagine, to create, and to enjoy the small things in life, and how, when winter comes, he lives on in her heart.
The perfect way into talking about a difficult subject with children, showing that sadness is as necessary to happiness as winter is to spring. If All the World Were... is a soothing, reassuring approach to loss and how to live without someone you loved, and a beautiful story, beautifully told.
Death is topic that you would not expect to come face to face with when reading a children's book and is certainly an area that needs to be addressed and delivered in the correct way. Joseph Coelho has done this in a sensitive and beautiful way through If All the World Were...
In this poetic picture book, we learn about the special bond between a granddaughter and her grandfather and how, through memories, love can live on forever. The story takes us through the seasons and we see how the little girl has made a million fantastic memories with her grandad and we learn through the words, 'If the world were', just how she'd keep making those memories if she could.
Reading the first half of this book, you can't help feeling warm inside as you relate to the little girl and the relationship she has with her grandad. This emotional connection then takes a turn as the realisation that Grandad has died hits home. The words 'but some tales are silent' are minimal but certainly hit hard in your stomach. As the book continues, you begin to see the little girl cope with her grief in her own special way - through her memories. She finds a notebook, a final gift from her beloved grandad, and this is where she writes and draws all her memories because even though he is gone, she can still hold his giant hand and explore.
I would certainly use this book in school to address the topic of death and grief and I think it would be a useful tool to use with any children who are coming to terms with the death of a loved one. I shall be recommending this to all the schools I network with.
Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Kyle Matravers, teacher.
Suggested Reading Age 5+
If All The World Were... Not to be read without tissues to hand! This heart-warming picture book, so poetically written, is a must to share with any young reader and in particular those coping with the loss of a grandparent or someone close. You can't help but be touched by this beautiful message. Although the concept of bereavement is so very deep for young children to comprehend, this book subtly uses its vibrant illustrations to explain more than what's actually said.
The focus of this story is the happy memories a young girl and her grandad shared, rather than the harsh facts. The young girl reminisces about the times she'd spent with her grandad and the different activities they had enjoyed throughout the seasons. When finding a new notebook 'made with spring-petal paper' and 'bound with a length of Indian string' made and left to her from her grandad, she then paints pictures to bring to life fond memories she has of them both.
The illustrations in this book are bright, vibrant and uplifting. Our favourite page was the 'kaleidoscope of memories'. Immediately my youngest daughter wanted to recreate her own version of this image and we thought it would make a great printing activity that could be completed with KS1 children in school. The KS1 history curriculum focuses on changes within living memory, children could compile a bank of images close/important to them that depict their memories of the past and use these to create a similar kaleidoscope image.
This story is a gentle text that can also be used to explain to children that drawing and writing our thoughts and feelings down can often be a powerful tool when trying to process our emotions following a traumatic event.
Picture book / Ages 5+ / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher.
Suggested Reading Age 5+
If All The World Were is a beautiful picture book for talking about children's relationships with grandparents or an older person in their lives, and the subject of death. It's no surprise to learn that Joseph Coelho is a poet when you read the lyrical, evocative text as the relationship between a girl and her grandfather is developed, drawing on colour, cycles and the seasons.
As we move through the seasons, the girl builds memories of her and her grandfather and discovers more about the things that makes him special; they have a close and loving relationship, which also helps her to better understand his earlier life in India and indeed her own Indian heritage. Eventually, though, as the seasons change we move into winter and she revisits the grandfather's room - his familiar figure is missing. We understand that he has died but instead of focusing on her grief, the story builds on the girl's memories of her grandfather through the objects she finds in his room. These are beautifully depicted in a 'kaleidoscope' full-page image of colour with flowers, pencils, butterflies - all the things her grandfather has shared with her.
This would be a lovely starting point for children to create their own 'kaleidoscope' of images of things that remind them of older family members, or friends, and to talk about those special people in their lives and what we remember most fondly about them. A gorgeous, layered picture book that handles a sensitive subject with beauty and joy.
Picture book / Reviewed by Sue Chamber / Ages 5+
Suggested Reading Age 5+