The first line of All the Water in the World by George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson (Atheneum for Young Readers, 2011) is so classic I find myself thinking about it, long after I finish reading this early introduction to the water cycle: “All the water in the world is all the water in the world.”
Lyon’s text is poetic even while being instructive. The first main concept is that water doesn’t come from anywhere, but rather that the rain is the same water that was already on Earth previously.
The digital illustrations look like acrylic paint, collage, and watercolors, giving them a unique look that is a pleasure to view. In addition, the fonts and layout of each page emphasize the moving and cyclic nature of water with movement, font changes, letter spacing, and even a page shift from horizontal to vertical to show the falling nature of the rain.
I love the author’s sassy tone and the splashes of literary language:
Honey, those clouds
of drips and drops and drumming–
a wealth of water.
But water is remarkably absent from some pages, reminding the reader that not everywhere has a supply of water, that we all wait for the rain and we all need it. The last line reminds the reader to “keep Earth green,” emphasizing our part in sustaining water on Earth.
The entire book does not focus on the water cycle, and there is no illustration of the cycle, and yet the whole book is a testament to water’s limited nature, the cyclical nature, and it perfectly fits into the cannon of water cycle learning material children will delight in reading aloud and hearing read aloud.
This is the perfect type of nonfiction book I look for: it contains truth and teaches, and yet the listener will simply love listening again and again.