One World by Michael Foreman

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One World by Michael Foreman

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: Michael Foreman's 'One World' is a wonderful thought-provoking book about just how fragile our planet can be. It is a simple story, quite beautifully illustrated, of two children creating their own world by a little rock pool on the beach. However, there are some stark similarities between their newly created mini world and this big wide world which we all inhabit and which we have to look after. This book has a simple but extremely important message that you will want to share with your child.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Andersen Press
ISBN: 978-1849393041

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In 'One World', a young girl is found staring up at the sun and watching it go down at the end of the day. She then watches the moon and stars come out. Although no further comment is made, she obviously finds it most awe inspiring. This makes the reader think about the sheer magnitude of the world we live in especially when we are reminded of all the creatures that share it with us.

The following day, the girl and her brother play on a beach and discover a small rock pool. They are fascinated by the variety of life they find in it and this prompts them to create their own mini world in the bucket that they have brought with them. They collect seaweed and pebbles before adding some shrimp and small fish. However, they soon realise that the more they add to their new world, the more they are taking from the real world especially as all that is left in the pool is some feathers and a blob of oil. This leads them to the conclusion that they should not take more things especially if it means that all that is left is ugly waste. They are reminded of the wider world where forests are disappearing, people are poisoning the land and creatures in far off lands are disappearing.

They quickly replace all of the things that they have taken and go home. As they prepare for bed that night they look at the moon and the stars thinking of all the other children that they share their planet with. The story concludes with these thought provoking words:

They all lived on one world.

And that world too, they held in their hands

'One World' is a stunning book. Not only does it have a really thoughtful story but the illustrations are really beautiful too. They are all water colours and each one takes up most of the page with just a small amount of text underneath each one. Each picture is stunning in its own way – whether it is illustrating the enormity of the world; the beauty of the creatures that live within it or the terrible destruction that is imposed upon it. Most provide a feeling of warmth and gentleness and this makes the story quite soothing. However, there are some starker images too: as the children leave the beach, the reader suddenly notices a power station with huge smoking chimneys in the distance.

The language that Michael Foreman uses is really quite beautiful too and there are many wonderful images created through the words. The descriptive words and phrases and, in particular, the use of similes and metaphors provide really good models for young readers. A couple of examples of this lovely vocabulary are:

The rocks in the pool stood like mountains, their peaks white with old barnacles.


Tiny fish darted into the shadows past sea anemones like flowers in a secret garden.

Overall, I can't praise 'One World' enough particularly because it shares the author's concern about the environment. Although it is a picture book that younger children would enjoy, I feel that it is probably aimed more at older children who are more likely to appreciate the message. I shared the book with my almost eight-year-old daughter and she was really moved by what we read. Her six-year-old sister loved the book too but I'm not convinced that she understood all the underlying messages. Nevertheless, this wonderful book has certainly provided a talking point in our house.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. We also have a review of Oh! If Only... by Michael Foreman.

Other books with an environmental theme that your child might enjoy are The Trouble with Dragons by Debi Gliori and Willow of the Woods: Litter to Glitter by Helen Bailey and Kirsten Richards.

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Buy One World by Michael Foreman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One World by Michael Foreman at


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