Welcome to Planet Earth: Read our review of This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Welcome to Planet Earth: Read our review of This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Brilliantly conceived artistic images convey a touching and heartfelt story in this wonderfully modern style of picture book. Readers from 3 to 103 will relate to the confident and sassy narrator, who demonstrates the randomness of a young child’s thought processes, reminding us of the free-thinking wonderment of youth. 

The young narrator is introducing her newborn sibling to our world, sharing her wisdom and observations of “REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF”.  It is a lesson in how the world works, with beautiful reflections about the wonders of nature and human nature. This ranges from the achievements of our forebears to advice about the best desserts in different cuisines! Humans are portrayed as rather wondrous beings, with potential to create new friends anywhere, to explore, to dream, and to take care of our planet. 

Author and illustrator Zeno Sworder created this book for his two young daughters. He wanted them to grow up reading picture books with characters that looked like them and this theme of diversity and multiculturalism is woven throughout the tale. He also explores our interconnectedness, the empowerment we can all enjoy and abundant hope for our future. Dark times are addressed, balanced by the reality of constant change in our lives. 

It is definitely the feel-good hit we all need right now! The illustrations are divine. I particularly like the double-page spread of the whale which I could study endlessly. This illustration gives the impression of the floating feeling of swimming in the ocean. So many other illustrations will resonate with readers and stimulate a response to the artwork. 

And this is definitely art. Never mind that a lot of it is rendered in waxy crayon. The simple illustrations are magical, perfectly capturing the youthful energy of the narrator. Yet there is detail here too in the pencil drawings. The bold colours contrast with the muted greys, making the narrator’s images “pop” out of the pages. 

In the style of Shaun Tan and Oliver Jeffers, the artwork elevates this book to another level. Adults will enjoy this as much as children, and it would be a perfect gift for anyone that has a new baby in their orbit. Author and illustrator Zeno Sworder lives in Melbourne and has a particular soft spot for pencils. He has created a stunning book that fills our minds with possibility and touches our hearts with a compassionate view of the world. 

Published in hardcover this is a book to treasure for many years. 

Reviews

Get creative with this wondrous activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Review | Book Life | Extract

9 September 2020

Get creative with this wondrous activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

A journey into the wild imagination of a child: Find out the inspiration behind This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Review | Author Related

9 September 2020

A journey into the wild imagination of a child: Find out the inspiration behind This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Help finish these famous artworks with this awesome activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Review | Book Life | Extract

8 September 2020

Help finish these famous artworks with this awesome activity pack from This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

Synopsis

With a strong message of interconnectedness, hope and empowerment, This Small Blue Dot follows a little girl exploring the big and small things in life. From contemplating our place on this ‘blue dot’ to the best Italian, Chinese and Indian desserts, the book provides a broader, more inclusive view of who we are, where we come from and where our dreams may take us.Delivering big lessons with playful humour, the precocious young narrator shares her take on nature and the environment, wisdom from elders, embracing difference, the power of imagination and broccoli. Through this character – loosely based on his eldest daughter, whose crayon drawings decorate the endpapers – Sworder channels the lessons he took from his Chinese grandmother and British father. ‘Because my daughters would not grow up hearing their voices I wanted to pass on some part of who they were and what they had taught me … In passing these lessons forward it was important to me to do so in the same spirit of generosity and fun that they gifted to me. There is a saying that you sail through life on a carpet woven from the love and wisdom of your ancestors. I benefited greatly from such a carpet and I made this book hoping that my daughters will as well.’Richly illustrated with original pencil and crayon drawings that conjure up memories of childhood, This Small Blue Dot captures not only lessons on life but also the sense of fun and strangeness that comes with being a member of the human family on planet Earth.
Zeno Sworder
About the author

Zeno Sworder

Zeno Sworder is a writer and artist who lives in Melbourne with his young family. After studying Chinese literature and migration law at university, he ended up as a dish washer. Later, he went on to work as a journalist, an English language teacher, a consular officer, an advocate for refugees and immigrants and a jewellery designer. He is a lover of all stationery but has a particular soft spot for pencils. This is his first book for children.

Books by Zeno Sworder

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