In Little Books with Big Hearts

When I Coloured in the World

When I Coloured in the World book cover

Imagine if you could change the world with a box of crayons and an eraser? When I Coloured in the World pictures a world free from inequality. A child rubs out war and replaces it with peace, drought with rain, and despair with hope.

“I rubbed out the word ‘war’.
I got my sky blue crayon and I wrote ‘peace’ with it.
Light blue
Peace …”

This beautiful book was first published in Persian, written by one of Iran’s greatest contemporary poets, Ahmadreza Ahmadi. The distinct illustrations by Iranian artist and teacher Ehsan Abdollahi are as vivid as the poetic text. Ehsan recently made global news headlines when his visa application to attend the Edinburgh International Book Festival in the UK was declined. A reminder of how hard it is for citizens of many countries to travel freely. After much public outcry at the decision, and the lost opportunity for cultural exchange (this was the third year in a row that independent publisher, Tiny Owl’s Iranian authors and illustrators were denied entry) the decision was overturned. Ehsan can now attend next week’s festival, where he will present workshops and take part in a timely panel event on art and the importance of intercultural dialogue.

This book began its life many years ago in a country a long way from Australia but thanks to publishers committed to translating stories and promoting cultural diversity, we can read these stories too. Books like this remind us that wherever we live in the world we want the same things … to be healthy, safe, respected and free.


When I Coloured in the World
Author: Ahmadreza Ahmadi
Illustrator: Ehsan Abdollahi
Publisher: Tiny Owl Publishing
First published: 2015
Country: UK

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