What a Wonderful World

by George David Weiss, Bob Thiele, and Ashley Bryan

Six children paint scenery: flowers, trees, sun, moon, stars and a rainbow. They... read more

Six children paint scenery: flowers, trees, sun, moon, stars and a rainbow. They draw, cut and mount animal, bird and reptile shapes. Hand puppets are costumed. Lettered signs proclaim "Puppet Show Today" and "Satchmo the Great!" The performance begins. "I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom / for me and you, and I think to myself, 'What a wonderful world!'..." Backstage, children hold up set pieces picturing flora, fauna and puppet people indigenous to each hemisphere. "The bright, blessed day, the dark, sacred night..." The hands lifting the sun and moon onto the stage vary in skin color. A trumpeter appears first as a puppet and then as a character. Bryan's inspired vision for a hopeful future is also a tribute to Louis Armstrong, whose performances of this song composed three decades ago are legendary. By addressing the young in love, "...They'll know much more / than I'll ever know..." Armstrong sang a personal testimony to goodness. That Bryan understands this song on a deep level is evident in his tempera and gouache paintings incorporating bright borders and stylized patterned shapes while expanding the meanings of the lyrics and music in this 12 1/4" x 10 1/4" book. (Ages 2-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1995

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