The World That We Want, by Kim Michelle Toft

The World That We Want is an awe-inspiring offering, with a message about caring for the environment which is neither preachy nor watered down. Instead it combines a simple, but catchy text with some of the most beautiful illustrations to grace a picture book.

The text is a repetitive rhyme, in the style of The House That Jack Built. The first page, showing birds flying against a deep blue sky, tells us: This is the air, that circles the world that we want. The next spread moves to the rainforest, with a cassowary, frogs, snakes, butterflies, trees and more, and the text: This is the forest that filters the air that circles the world that we want. From here, text and illustrations move from forest to the river, beach, water and more, with young listeners quickly picking up on the repetition and joining in.

Each double page spread features detailed images of the animals and plant life of the particular environment. The final spread folds out into a four page spread and shows all of the different environments, moving from air and forest through to ocean and reinforces the message that all the different environments are connected to make one world.

The illustrative technique is unusual for a picture book – each illustration has been hand-painted on silk – but the print quality is superb, with vibrant colours and life-like definition throughout. The adition of a four page guide, providing the name of each animal pictured and giving further information, adds an extra educational benefit.

This picture book is simply breathtakingly beautiful, and sure to delight children and adults alike.

The World That We Want, by Kim Michelle Toft
UQP, 2005