Leo Dillon’s last book with Diane Dillon imagines what the world would be like if children were in charge.
The Dillons envision a world of peace, fairness and kindness, where everyone’s basic needs would be met. No one would be hungry, and everyone would have a place to live. Sick people would have medicine, and good schools would be universal. Unsurprisingly, this world is populated with smiling, happy children of many skin tones, wearing clothing from all corners of the world and representing a variety of religions. The figures on each spread are painted against a bright white background, making the children pop off the page in contrast. An unvarying optimism oozes from each word and illustration, creating a strange world of sameness that may remind some of 1970s-era educational tracts. Paintings of many children in traditional costumes add to that generic, “It’s a Small World” feeling. The educational tone extends into a three-page sermon about children’s volunteerism and a discussion of Franklin Roosevelt’s “Second Bill of Rights.” Children might enjoy the pictures, but even they will be stretched to imagine a world where “No bullying would be allowed”; how many schools extend this promise without delivering? With so little to pin this book to the world actual children are living in, it feels like a gesture rather than a call to action.
Well-meaning but saccharine and didactic. (Picture book. 4-8)