cover image Making the World

Making the World

Douglas Wood. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-81358-0

A vision of cosmic interconnectedness starts off strong but gets a bit overdone in this message-driven picture book. ""The world isn't finished yet,"" runs Wood's (Old Turtle) leitmotif, declared on the first page. ""It's still being made."" A breeze, for example, makes ripples and waves on the water, which wears down sand and pebbles, ""and the world is changed."" Yoshi (The First Story Ever Told), who was inspired here by her daughter, Hibiki Miyazaki, follows Wood's scene-changes with naturalistic, mostly full-spread watercolors: she shows a boy playing at a New England seashore; an antelope darting across the African savannah; a hilly Andean terrain crisscrossed by farms and trod by burros. Each setting is teeming with numerous elements (e.g., for the savannah, there is also an ancient baobab tree, bushbabies, baboons, various species of birds, etc.), each enumerated by the text and credited with ""help[ing] to make the world."" Meanwhile, ""you"" (an African girl reclining in the shade of a tree; a Japanese child looking at her reflection in a pool of koi; etc.) ""help to make the world, too."" But there are so many significant words on the page, paired with the often busy illustrations, that readers may have trouble keeping up. The simplest scenes are most successful, especially the last, which returns to the seashore to depict the moon gleaming over the bay, lighthouse and beach house, accompanied by one simple, poignant line of type. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)