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Friday, August 12, 2011

All the water in the world, written by George Ella Lyon and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. Simon & Schuster, 2011. $18.99 ages 3 and up

"That rain
that cascaded from clouds
and meandered down mountains,
that wavered over waterfalls
then slipped into rivers
and opened into oceans,
that rain has been here before."

I love the first line of this book and the way it establishes a realistic, and perhaps as yet unknown, concept for young children:

"All the water in the world all the water in the world."

It is as easy as that! It is not a renewable resource unless we carefully control its usage, treatment and release. The water that is on earth right now is all that we have. That is perhaps the most important thing that George Ella Lyon wants us to take from reading this beautiful new book. In lyric poetry she tells us the story of water, its cycle and its dramatic importance to the way we live our lives. It is a celebration!

Right from the start our eyes are drawn to the freshness of the water that surrounds us. Katherine Tillotson matches the text perfectly with a gushing water spray from the hose, small pools that make refreshing, watery spots on the ground, slowly dripping tap water as it fills a mug. The bright colors and page-filling artwork make this a terrific readaloud for the classroom. The font size changes, as do the perspectives assuring attentive listening for every page. As she does in each of her books, George Ella Lyon is very careful about word choice, letting them create a rhythmic sound for her audience, with a personal and gentle feel. From the soothing blues, greens and purples of places where water is abundant, Tillotson changes her palette to reflect the drought stricken places that await water to sustain and sweeten life. Then, she returns to the beauty of renewal.
The author ends with a plea to all who read her book:

"all so precious - do not waste it.
And delicious - we can taste it.
Keep it clear, keep it clean...
keep Earth green!"

The message is clear...we cannot live without water.
As a sidenote, I wanted to share this quote from Katherine Tillotson about her truly remarkable art for this book:
“The final art for All the Water was collaged from hand-patterned papers. Among these are patterned paste papers. Paste paper is a 400-year-old technique for hand-patterning paper. Over the years these papers were most often used as endpapers. I cook up a recipe of flour and water and then add color. Once applied to the paper you can stamp, drag, sponge and comb patterns into the paste. Very messy and very fun."

If you want to see more of that interview, go to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast at

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