Friday, April 20, 2018

Welcome to Our World! Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

To my son, Harland.

This book was written in the first two months of your life as I tried to make sense of it all for you.

These are the things I think you need to know.

Who wouldn't want to give their child the wisdom of the universe?

Oliver Jeffers wisely elects to limit himself (with just a hint of the Milky Way) to the solar system, which he sketches out for Harland, with special emphasis on Planet Earth, for good reason. As he points out, "It's all we've got."

We're glad you found us, as space is very big.

Jeffers decides to divide the planet into two realms--land and sea, and the creatures that dwell thereon--or thereunder, as the case may be. He pencils in all sorts of weather--storms and sunshine, day and night, and various creatures--beginning with persons of various physical types.

But don't be fooled. We are all people.

You are a person. You have one body. Look after if because most parts don't grow back!

Use your time well. It will be gone before you know it.

In his usual wry voice and sketchy, scratchy illustrations and lettering, author Jeffers offers baby Harland good advice, along with some of his trademark humorous touches. In his treatise on the sky he labels the atmosphere and the stratosthingy. Explaining the diurnal cycle, the describes the daytime as when "we do stuff." In his two-page spread depicting the variety of Earth's creatures, he sticks in the dodo, who admits in a speech balloon that "I'm not supposed to be here." and when he generalizes that animals don't talk, a cheeky parrot pops up to say "I do!" And when it's time for getting deep into the details, Jeffers offers a promise: : "We know a bit about the sea, but we'll talk some more about that once you've learned to swim."

By the multiple award-winning Oliver Jeffers, Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth (Philomel Books, 2017, Am. ed), is the creation of a children's author whose picture books, like this best-seller, speak to both children and the adults in their lives. Great for a birthday, great for Earth Day, this book is filled with Jeffers' mind-opening illustrations and those tidbits of worldly wisdom you wish you could give your children about living on our place in space--if they would sit still for it--and now, with this book, maybe they will!

As Publishers Weekly sums it up, "Moments of human intimacy jostle with scenes that inspire cosmic awe, and the broad diversity of Jeffers's candy-colored humans—-musicians, hijabis, nuns, explorers, potentates—underscores the twin messages that 'You're never alone on Earth" and that we're all in this together.'"

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