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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
When I Coloured in the World
by Ahmadreza Ahmadi
Age Range: 6-8
With a box of coloured crayons and an eraser, a child begins to imagine how to change the world. She rubs out the word 'darkness' and writes 'light' and 'Yellow', creating a blaze of light as light bulbs illuminate a yellow background – "With my yellow crayon I made lights come on all over the world! I gave the world yellow ".
As the reader travels through the book the world is made into a kinder and happier place: sky blue boredom gives way to play; pink health replaces illness and purple laughter supersedes crying. A violet breeze takes the place of a storm, silver drizzle and rain eliminate floods and drought and orange is a symbol of the unimportance of age as 'old' and 'age' are erased and replaced by 'people'.
When I Coloured the World by Iranian poet Ahmadreza Ahmadi has a beautiful, simple concept with a profound message. The eloquent prose translated by Azita Rassi, flow and meander across the pages, enhanced by the exquisitely colourful illustrations of Ehsan Abdollahi.
The child-like quality of this engaging artwork cleverly helps to reinforce the importance of Ahmadi's text – two children playing among brightly coloured flowers in rich reds, pinks, purple set against a vivid yellow background showing despair turning to hope or a radio, with vases of yellow flowers perched on top, set against a light blue background representing peace as news is transmitted across every continent that all the wars have stopped.
This is a picture book to savour and one that should be read not just by children but adults too.