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By J. J. Markatt

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IF OUR WORLD WAS WHITE is a simple, bright, and charming book that will appeal to kids just learning to read (and to color).

IF OUR WORLD WAS WHITE is a children’s book that explores the question of color, and why it is important to the world. The book begins with a colorful landscape, which gradually, page by page, loses one hue after another until the world is completely white, outlined in black. The author explains, bit by bit, what beauty would be lost with each color – the orange birds would disappear against the sky, the red houses would no longer look so welcoming, and even the white clouds would no longer stand out if the sky were white, too, instead of blue.

The author begins the book with a short explanation of how the idea came about, from a chance question-and-answer from his young son. The artwork is bright, charming, and visually striking, and there are a couple of pages at the end of the book for children to color in themselves, which is a nice touch. Even the end-papers of the book are pretty, almost mandala-like. The message of the book is gentle, affirming, and simple, and is clearly brought across without too much preaching. It’s generally a good thing for children’s books to rhyme, as it engages interest and helps with reading, but except for the very beginning and end, the book only uses one rhyme (bright/ white/ flight/ height/ unite/ etc), which quickly becomes monotonous. It also makes “quiet”, the one end word that tries but does not quite rhyme with the others, stand out more problematically.

More attention to the rhythm of the words, as well as the rhyme, would also make the book easier to read aloud and more pleasant to the ear. As grammar is particularly important when a book is aimed at those just learning the language, it is perhaps not too nitpicky to mention that the title should use “were” in place of “was.” The message of inclusion is a bit undercut by including a somewhat gratuitous reference to Christmas – it’s seasonal and festive, and reasonably appropriate in context, but it does risk leaving out children who don’t celebrate the holiday.

IF OUR WORLD WAS WHITE is a simple, bright, and charming book that will appeal to kids just learning to read (and to color).

~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader

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