All You Need

Holiday House/Neal Porter. Apr. 2022. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823443291.
K-Gr 3–Schwartz’s poetic text is both profound and simple as it enumerates all that is necessary to thrive from the physical (planet, sun, rain, food, water, sleep, etc.) to the emotional (welcome, love, a voice). It’s difficult to believe that a list of such essential matters does not drift into the esoteric, but here they are, as tangible and enveloping as a child’s embrace in Hu’s watercolor paintings. “All you need is a planet to live on, a sun to give you light and warmth.” And then, “You also need fresh water to quench your thirst, and plenty of sleep. Finally, you need a land where you are welcome, someone to watch over you, words to share your thoughts.” Hu’s scenes are as full of color and light as they are evocative and beautiful. They tell a story within the text of a girl experiencing all of Schwartz’s milestones while on her own journey from a childhood in Hunan to adulthood as an artist who ultimately resides in a different country from her family. There are layers of meaning that are apparent only after reading the artist’s note; an author’s note is also included.
VERDICT A beautiful, poetic look at what one needs to live a good life. It can easily be experienced on many levels, depending on developmental stage, and used in writing classes.

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