REVIEW: All You Need

We’re nearing the middle of the year, and honestly, I can’t believe how quick it has been. Not too long ago, I was writing about my reading goals for the year. Somehow, we’re in May. It’s terrifying.

Today’s book is a little open to self-interpretation and possibly, reflection. It’s a good segue into the idea of counting your blessings, maybe consider the past few years in a worldwide lockdown, and possibly hope for the years ahead. Time is moving incredibly fast. I can’t help but want to slow down.

This book tackles just that.

All You Need
by Howard Schwartz and Jasu Hu (illustrator)

get it here


A little girl grows up to be an accomplished artist in this sumptuously illustrated book about the small things that lead to a rich and fulfilling life.

All You need
Is a planet to live on,
A sun to give you light,
And warmth…

In All You Need, poet Howard Schwartz’s graceful, deceptively simple text describes a handful of things anyone needs to live a rich and fulfilling life, made all the more potent by the illustrations of debut picture book artist Jasu Hu, who uses her talents to create a rich and powerful narrative describing her own journey, creative and otherwise, from a childhood in China to her arrival to study art in New York. Ultimately, she creates her own book, this book, a gift to her distant parents.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

A review copy was provided by courtesy of Holiday House Publishing, Inc.

The art is phenomenal with watercolour paintings blended so beautifully, it depicts the countryside as such a hopeful, dreamy and cosy place to grow up. It is so magical, almost ethereal.

Jasu Hu‘s art truly complemented Howard Schwartz’s poem. While Howard’s poem was wise, reflecting on all we need in this world (aside from the obvious), it made Jasu remember and interpret it with her experience of growing up in Hunan. To think that such a simple, relatable poem would have inspired this, poetry sure does have an impact. Had I grown up having this book on my shelf, I’d be mesmerised and inspired by her art to begin a career in illustration.

Still, I wished others who do not read Mandarin would be able to fully experience this book. Perhaps it was made to be more intimate. Either way, here’s the best translation of my 6 years of Mandarin in primary school could give, it says:

“Beloved father and mother, I’m very happy, I finally found a new ‘home’.
Thinking of you
Zhong [name]“


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