Reviews /

One World Many Colours

Authored by Ben Lerwill
Illustrated by Alette Straathof
Published by Words and Pictures

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One World Many Colours, topical and relevant, will be a valuable addition to children’s bookshelves. The message throughout is that, diverse as the world is, we humans are just part of one big collective who inhabit and share one planet. We differ from each other in race, culture, ethnicity, gender, and species but we have much more in common than what divides us. We are all connected in many ways.

One such connection is colour. Colours make our earth a welcoming and nurturing place. For example, Lerwill’s text reminds us that the yellow of a sunflower in Spain is matched in a football shirt in Brazil and echoed in the yellow taxis that patrol New York’s streets. The pinks of flamingos in Kenya resonate with macarons in a patisserie in Paris and with cherry blossom in Japan. As we gaze at the images, we notice many details such as the dog outside the Paris bakery, the variety of cakes and breads, the signage, the ladies lunching and gesticulating. Meanwhile, under a canopy of cherry blossom across the page, we see koi in a pond, and a lady in a kimono tending her garden. We are absorbing a lot of cultural knowledge very subtly.

The author and illustrator have managed to pack a lot of textual and visual information into this book without it being didactic or heavy. The tone throughout is one of celebration and joy. We see the words for different colours in several languages. We zoom around the earth to many continents, countries, and cities. There is a map along with explanatory notes at the end that will satisfy children who love facts.

But overall, the illustrations lift this book up. We have so much to look at in the busy cities, the lonely Canadian woods, the rice fields of Vietnam, the Egyptian and Arabian deserts and deep in the oceans.

The message from the author and illustrator at then end show us that this book is a labour of love and a song of praise for our planet. This publication will be a rich classroom resource for cross-curricular work in art, geography, ecology, nature studies and language.  It could also provide a stimulus for opening up discussion on the global effects of climate change.