If all the world were . . . by Joseph Coelho
Ill. by Alison Colpoys. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2018. ISBN
(Age: picture book) Recommended. Themes: Love, Family, Grandparents. A beautifully understated story of love between a child and her grandfather begins with the pair exploring their world, holding hands as they walk amongst the colours of spring. She wishes the world was always springtime so that her grandfather's birthdays could be replanted and he never grow old. Later in summer she wishes that they could fly in deep space with their laughs like shooting stars. In autumn he gives her a lovely note book that he has created with hand made paper, bound with Indian leather string in which to write and draw all her dreams. She wishes that the world was made of dreams and that she could paint her grandfather's happiness over all the sad places.
Until this point the child and her grandfather have been doing things together, some outside, some inside, but sharing things together. Now it is winter and we see the old man sitting in a comfy chair by the fire, a knee rug on his lap. Their interaction is more muted, quieter, calmer as she listens to his tales, wishing that by listening to all his stories he could become better. And over the page we see the fire has gone out and the chair empty.
Helping her parents clean out his room, she finds the things he spoke about, reminding her of his stories, and on his chair she finds another notebook with her name on the front. She uses this to write in all the stories about her grandfather, filling the pages with the stories that he told her and of their life together.
This is a charming story of loss and grief, of remembering the one who has died through memories of what they did together, so keeping the love they had together, alive and thriving. The young girl records all she remembers in her notebook, recalling the things they did through the four seasons. The background with large areas of white space shows younger readers the sorts of things that a child and grandfather do together, reinforcing the place that grandparents have in a child's life and reminding children of the four seasons and what to expect as each season comes by.