All the World

Truth be told, All the World  slowly, steadily, and forcefully weaseled its way into my heart. It was not love at first sight. My problem? I love loud. I gravitate towards picture books that are rambunctious and kooky and fast paced. But once I shut up enough, I heard this beautiful lullaby of a story. Written by Liz Garton Scanlon, and illustrated by Marla Frazee, All the World celebrates both the simple and the complex wonders of the world, wraps you in a big bear hug, and sends you on your way. All the world in 32-ish pages and maybe 200 words.

Nest, bird, feather fly

All the world has got its sky

At the LA SCBWI conference a few months ago, I attended a session by Marla Frazee and the editor of All the World, Allyn Johnston. I still remember hearing Allyn say that writing picture books is an honor because you are writing for people who cannot yet read. And I remember Marla’s proclamation that kids are experts at reading pictures, and how that drives her illustrations.


Balance refers to the way all elements in a composition work together. Simple enough. Even the creation of this book through the dynamic collaboration among Liz, Marla, and Allyn exemplifies balance. This book belonged to no one artist. It was theirs. Marla consistently uses complete balance in her two page spreads and solo illustrations. Complete balance, also known as symmetrical balance, occurs when objects are distributed in equal parts around a center point.

It isn’t the exact number of people around the fountain that matters, but visually, each side has a similarly weighted crowd. The ship, boat and raft referenced in the words are generally along the vertical center of this page.

Additionally, Marla’s weapon of choice is circular balance. In a well balanced composition, your eye should cross the central division of it at least once. Circular balance assures that your eye continually moves around the composition, rather than abruptly darting from any one place to another.

Like here. Following the gaze of the little girl, your eye continues over the rocks, up to the boy, past his sandcastle, and back around to the little girl. And it begins again.

Fitting, right? Even in a small illustration, she reminds us of the continuity and unity of our world. Just as circles are never-ending, ‘All the world is everything / Everything is you and me.’

Love these trucks and their tracks, the rolling hills, and the farm’s bountiful greens. Love both the circular and complete balance. It’s a comforting and welcoming picture, perfectly drawn to tell this story.

I may be loud and obnoxious again tomorrow, but for now, I’m contentedly shushed and cozy.

{A lovely interview with both Liz and Marla on the collaborative process of creating All the World.}

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  • By Bembo’s Zoo « Design of the Picture Book on November 2, 2011 at 8:07 am

    […] book. Adults with a keen eye may enjoy the level of sophistication a tad more than a child, but as Marla Frazee taught me, kids are experts at reading pictures, and they will surely enjoy deconstructing this […]