The witty minimalism of the black-and-white line artwork by Swiss illustrator Albertine in this extreme landscape-format children’s book belies the psychological depth of the content.
A child is traveling by train from her mother’s home in the city to her grandmother’s home, which is “practically on the other side of the world.” The train, the only color element of the whole book, moves through a landscape that begins as a modern European cityscape (plenty of signs in French for language practice!) and increasingly becomes more surreal and Seuss-ian as the landscape becomes more rural. The story is a gently veiled moral tale of resolution and independence. In spite of the admonitions of her mother and grandmother, who tell her that it is impossible to know the whole world, the child asserts that she intends to travel everywhere, and thus she will be able to know the whole world. Her assertions of independence and determination gain momentum as the train continues. The fact that the train does arrive at its far-distant destination, reuniting the girl with her grandmother, suggests that the child is right and that adults are too rigid in their thinking.
Readers will thrill to the sense of discovery and exploration the girl experiences: “It is possible.” (Picture book. 2-4)