cover image The World Belongs to You

The World Belongs to You

Riccardo Bozzi, illus. by Olimpia Zagnoli. Candlewick/Templar, $14.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6488-6

The title of this first book from Bozzi and Zagnoli makes a sweeping promise, but there’s ambivalence inside. Bozzi starts with the generous, eponymous declaration; it appears on a white page with a green circle on it. The second statement, “And you belong to the world,” reverses the first—and reverses the image, too, with a white circle against a field of red. Flat, graphic shapes in austere colors continue throughout. They drift against empty backdrops, and there’s something lonely about them. “You are free,” Bozzi goes on, then thinks again, adding, “Hopefully,” with an uncomfortable note of doubt. He backtracks. “You are free, but you have limits.” The final message is one of adjusted pragmatism: “You are free to overcome these limits.” Zagnoli underlines Bozzi’s modest message with a rose growing up in an empty space between fence pickets. Introducing children to the distinction between things they can control and things they can’t is a tricky proposition—so much is beyond their control. While the intention is to offer reassurance, this particular lesson may muddy the waters. Ages 5–7. (Mar.)