Review of The World and Everything in It

The World and Everything in ItThe World and Everything in It
by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author
Preschool    Greenwillow    32 pp.
3/23    9780063245648    $19.99

“There are big things and little things in the world.” Here Henkes meditates on the world and our place in it. There are tiny things (kittens, ladybugs, flowers), and there are enormous things (the sea, the sun, the moon). “Most of the things are in-between. Like you. And me.” At heart, this is a concept book about size, but also perspective. Short declarative sentences sit alongside spare ink and watercolor illustrations contained in panels on spreads with ample white space. Encased in the square trim size that has become Henkes’s trademark, the complexity of existence becomes something even a three- or four-year-old can consider. One image shows huge ocean waves, but a few pages later we see that a child can hold some of the ocean water in their hands. A kitten sits in a small child’s lap on one page; a few pages later, the same kitten basks in the light of the sun, one of the largest objects a child can see. Henkes’s strength is in the poetry of the everyday and finding the profound in ordinary moments, and that strength is on full display in a book that is simultaneously soothing and mind-blowing. “Everything is in the world.” Shelve this somewhere between concept and philosophy—and get it into kids’ hands.

From the May/June 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Adrienne L. Pettinelli

Adrienne L. Pettinelli is the director of the Henrietta (NY) Public Library. She has served on several book award committees, including the 2015 Caldecott Committee, and is the author of Helping Homeschoolers in the Library (2008).

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