Brain Pickings

Walk This World: A Celebration of Life in a Day

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A heartening reminder of the human commonality underpinning cultural differences in vintage-inspired illustrations and charming verses.

In Walk This World (public library), her wonderful children’s book debut, Finnish illustrator, graphic designer and art director Lotta Nieminen takes a culturally voracious child-protagonist on a daylong journey around the globe in short verses and charming vintage-inspired illustrations that blend the minimalist cultural contrasts of Paris vs. New York and East vs. West with the playful graphic ethnography of Blexbolex’s People. The story is a heartening reminder of the human commonality underpinning cultural differences, wrapped in a visual feast of sheer delight.

What makes this vibrant large-scale board book especially marvelous, however, are the 80 or so advent-calendar-style flaps, which reveal hidden lively vignettes amidst the gorgeous cityscapes.

On a typical rainy London day, a lady — one of refreshingly real-world rather than magazine-twiggy bodily proportions, mind you — ducks inside a classic red telephone box for an urgent call that leaves us wondering who might be on the other end of the line.

Tower Bridge lifts to let a ship pass, then a car passes through once it lowers its benevolent arms back into a steadfast embrace.

In Australia, a tuxedoed violinist slips into the Sydney Opera House, then steps into the spotlight.

In Japan, we peek inside a karaoke bar.

In South America, Capoeira dancers whirl around to entertain the beaching crowds as a woman takes an ice cream break from sunbathing.

Somewhere in Africa, a woman and her chicken blissfully ride the bus.

In snowy Russia, a couple warms up to a fancy dinner at a restaurant.

In France, bakers and chefs and cheese-sellers go about their delicious business.

Having circled the globe, our child-protagonist — who remains genderless and raceless — returns to New York, where the journey began:

I’ve walked this world — I left this morning,
saw much more than I could name.
Found that though we might look different,
underneath we’re just the same.

Walk This World is an absolute delight. Tickle your tastebuds with this lovely teaser:

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