Four in All

Four in All

5.0 2
by Nina Payne, Adam Payne, Handprint

A child's epic adventure is depicted brilliantly in this elegant and visually stunning collaboration between a mother and son. The poet—Nina Payne—conjures the world in all its symmetry and beauty, using only fifty-six common nouns that every child knows. The artist—Adam Payne—-tells the story of a child's discovery of creation in exquisite


A child's epic adventure is depicted brilliantly in this elegant and visually stunning collaboration between a mother and son. The poet—Nina Payne—conjures the world in all its symmetry and beauty, using only fifty-six common nouns that every child knows. The artist—Adam Payne—-tells the story of a child's discovery of creation in exquisite cut-paper collage. The poet's and artist's visions come together seamlessly, enhancing each, transcending both to create a perfect picture book.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It is hard to say which is more poetic Nina Payne's (All the Day Long) exceptionally well-crafted text or her son's immaculately executed and thoughtfully conceived cut-paper collages. The text, a tightly edited, rhyming sequence of four-noun lines, conjures a child's world and stresses its stability: "eyes ears nose mouth/ east west north south/ oats wheat corn rye/ sun moon stars sky." The art, like the text, testifies to a deceptive modesty. The highly detailed collages show bucolic scenes: the child protagonist peeps out from behind a leafy tree, then stands at a crossroads and next embarks upon a narrow bridge. The palette of muted, almost earthy purples and blues, greens and reds, creates the sense of unbreakable calm; the humble 8" x 8" trim size reinforces the quietness of the Paynes' approach. All this understatement, however, gives life to the ambitiousness of their work. The child's journey is archetypal, flowing freely into fantasy (e.g., the quartet of "bear bird fish snake" joins the girl at the table for "fork plate knife spoon") and back into the safety of home (in the end, the girl rushes back toward her house, where her family waits outside: "mother father son daughter"). Very young children in particular will delight in the sturdiness of the language; and readers of all ages will want to keep an eye on a promising new illustrator. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
This picture book features 14 groupings of four related items such as eyes ears nose mouth, sun moon stars sky, ocean river puddle lake, and mother father son daughter. Each two-page spread features one of the groupings and is intricately illustrated with a richly colored and textured cut-paper collage. The 56 words are simple and when combined with the detailed illustrations, they are bound to draw a child into the poem. The warm earthy tones make the cut paper come alive to pull the child into the scene. Each page is a wondrous collection of interesting shapes, colors and textures for the senses, making it a fantastic book for calm observation and quiet discussion. 2001, Front Street, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer:Julie Eick Granchelli
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-A young girl embarks on a dreamlike journey of imaginative independence. On every spread, a four-word line of the poem appears: e.g., "eyes ears nose mouth" followed by "east west north south-." As she travels across water and sky, she encounters various objects that she transforms and uses to build a cozy, bent-branch and board house ("one two three four/roof window chimney door"). She entertains a group of animals (four, of course) who've sailed over to visit at her invitation trumpeted from the weathervane, then rises into the darkish sky ("earth air fire water"), returning to her home and family ("mother father son daughter") from whence she began her travels. There is charm and a nursery-rhyme quality to the cadenced verse, but no logic to the word quartets; the narrative thread is established through the wonderful cut-paper collage illustrations. The fibered textures in a richly nuanced palette ranging from earth tones to lovely blues, greens, purples, yellows, and reds are roughly cut into simple shapes that provide intriguing detail; there is plenty to look for while piecing together the story. The spreads alternate between cream borders and scenes that bleed off the page, and the perspective varies from face-to-face close-up to stunning distant expanse. One-on-one or small-group sharing offer the best chance to appreciate the exuberance and creativity of this simple gem.-Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An artistic collaboration between a mother and son, this freshman effort is laudable, though somewhat flawed. The younger Payne's cut-paper collage provides not only a rich backdrop for poet Payne's (All the Day Long, o.p.) economical couplets, but a story of its own, that of a girl traveling alone in the dreamy land outside her country home. In one particularly stunning spread the words "one two three four" accompany intricate illustrations of ten creatures-a big bee, two ants, three ladybugs, and four tiny elves-wending their way through the sinewy grass. In the distance, the child builds a wood frame house. The facing page finds the girl dancing atop the weather vane of the finished structure with the words "roof window chimney door" set against the darkening sky. Rendered in the same earth-toned hues that define the illustration, unfortunately the text often recedes into the background. Illustrations bordered by creamy parchment-like paper let the words stand out. At just four words per spread (all nouns), the rhythmic text may well be remembered by young listeners, but emergent readers will find few visual cues in the quixotic images. Still, the exquisitely detailed, darkly lit illustrations reward close inspection. The final page lists the poem in its entirety, 56 nouns in all. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Highlights Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
2 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Nina Payne, author of All the Day Long, a book of children’s poems, lives in Amherst, MA. Her son Adam Payne lives in Inverness, CA. This is their first collaborative effort.

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Four in All 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book with fantastic illustrations; each page connected as part of a larger whimsical world. The language is simple, soothing and poetic. Great book. A favorite for new baby gifts and a bit out of the ordinary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a marvelous little book, with lyrical, simple poetry, and illustrations that take you through different scenes in a magical world, all connected. The little girl dances through each scene with a joyful independence.