If all the world were …
Joseph Coelho and Allison Colpoys
Lincoln Children’s Books, First Editions
Be prepared to shed tears when you read this first person narration by a little girl who takes readers on a journey through four seasons and a whole life’s experiences shared with her beloved Grandad.
Starting with spring, she talks of long exploratory walks hand in hand and then takes a seasonal flight of fancy: ‘If all the world were springtime, / I would replant my grandad’s birthdays / so that he would never get old.’
In summer Grandad buys a wooden racing track (second hand with bits missing) and together they play, sometimes zooming the cars up into space. This action triggers the narrator’s second imagined scenario to make her granddad happy.
I love the notebook with handmade paper, bound with Indian-leather string Grandpa makes for his granddaughter in autumn, wherein to write and draw her dreams with a special rainbow pencil.
That suggestion leads to her third loving musing:
‘If all the world were dreams, / I would mix my bright Grandad feelings / and paint them over sad places.’
Come winter it’s time for cosying up by the fire and listening to Grandad’s tales of his boyhood of Indian sweets and homemade toys, and hear him tell of ships, snakes and tigers. Now though Grandad is ailing and the little girl supposes a world of stories and making her grandad better merely by listening to his every tale.
One day though his chair is empty; Grandad is no more. From the ephemera she finds in his room, the narrator creates a beautiful mandala of memories; memories she wishes could be rooms where she could visit her granddad.
On Grandad’s chair she finds a brand new notebook made by him with her name on the cover, the perfect thing in which to record all her precious memories.
I’m sure that like me, you’ll find yourself reaching for that box of tissues as you read this beautiful, lyrical book. Joseph’s Coelho’s poignant text in combination with Allison Colpoy’s tender illustrations infused with nostalgia and love, are a celebration of life as well as a perfect starting point for a conversation about loss and dying.
Soul music in a picture book, this.