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All the World

I have a new favorite book this week.

It's a picture book we took out from the library called All the World. It's a beautiful long poem by Liz Garto Scanlon with lovely illustrations by Marla Frazee. But I like it because, without overstating anything, it's a book about hippies.

On the first pages a family visits the ocean. The text reads in part "A moat to dig, a shell to keep, all the world is wide and deep." But unlike other typical illustrations in childrens' books, this family is instantly recognizable as hippy and (dare I say it) real. The boy is wading in the water in jean shorts. The dad sports crazy curly dreads and the mom is wearing gardening clothes with her shoes off. Peaking out of the back of their flat bed truck is a surf board. There's no carefully packed beach bag in sight. They look like a family who just decided to hop out of their car while passing by the seashore, not a family who hopped out of the pages of What To Expect.

Turn a few pages and we see the scene at a community garden. There are people of mixed races who actually look like people of mixed races, not like someone passed on that memo to the colorist. A woman wearing a baby on her back carries a basket of tomatoes. On the next page visitors to the farm stand haul away the produce on bicycles and mopeds and cars with dogs waiting in the front seat.

We see these folks more through the following pages of illustrations, stopping to climb a big tree, scrambling for cover when a fast-moving rain shower comes down and the text reads "Better luck another day. All the world goes round this way."

The book concludes with a sunset gathering at a seaside home. Silhouetted against the clearing sky are a woman holding a baby, another woman carrying a violin, a man dragging a harp out of an old VW bus. On the next page the ho-down is in full swing inside the lamp-lit house, with dread-lock hippy dada on piano and children and babies running here and there.

Next we see scenes of all the protagonists we've met so far concluding their day before bed time. Two women who rode to the farmers market on their tandem bicycle are cuddling on a porch swing. The tomato-bearing mama is breastfeeding her baby while reading what looks like homework. A man pets his puppy goodnight. The hippy couple is hugging. The poem concludes "Hope and peace and love and trust. All the world is all of us."

This book says it all. It reaffirms my belief that the world can be transformed simply and slowly by laid back people having a good time.

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