Books Contours of Love Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Welcoming a Newborn to Planet Earth in Oliver Jeffers’ “Here We Are”

Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

We are huge fans of Oliver Jeffers – and so when I noted that he has a new picturebook that he created for his newborn, I immediately hunted it down from our library, especially since we are celebrating contours of love as our reading theme for the first quarter of the year.

Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth

Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Published by Philomel Books (2017)
ISBN-10: 0399167897
ISBN-13: 9780399167898
Borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Before picking up this book from the library, I remembered one article that I used as required reading in my Introduction to Social Science 1 class many many moons ago. It was a letter written by scientist Richard Dawkins to his then 10-year old daughter, Juliet – about the importance of thinking for one’s self, the nature of truth, and the importance of finding evidence for things that are considered factual.

Well, Oliver Jeffers’ message to his son is nothing like that bubble-bursting, ode-to-rationality letter of Dawkins to Juliet. One could even claim that this is not just Oliver Jeffers’ letter to his son, but also his love letter to Planet Earth and its multitudes of beings (apparently over 7 billion now), and a tribute to his own father (as could be noted in the last few pages of the book).

Unlike other picturebooks welcoming newborns (the international bestselling Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw comes to mind and Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram) Here We Are is meant to be an overview, call it an orientation if you will, of what it’s like to be a citizen of Planet Earth – from information about one’s body…

… to details about day and night, differences between land and sea (plus outer space). Hence, Jeffers succeeds in creating a manual-of-sorts, a handbook, a beautifully illustrated guide about what it means to live on Earth. There is one image that is forever burned into my brain, it is so beautiful that it gives me hope that there is a much different life that can be had… somewhere out there in this world:

Isn’t that absolutely gorgeous? More than just the simple useful notes that will help Oliver’s son navigate his way around this planet, it is also meant to convey that as overwhelmed as he may sometimes feel in this big wide world – he is never alone. It is a comforting message that I feel is all-encompassing and timeless. Here is a video of the man himself sharing his thoughts as he was creating this gorgeous book that you should find and get for yourself:

And here’s the official trailer for the book:

#LitWorld2018GB Update: US (Oliver Jeffers is originally from Ireland but is now based in New York.)

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

5 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Welcoming a Newborn to Planet Earth in Oliver Jeffers’ “Here We Are”

  1. Lovely serendipity! I’ve been waiting and waiting to read this book and finally, it is at the library, my turn! Thanks for that video with Jeffers, too, very nice to read, Myra.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This has been a consistent bestseller at the store.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I enjoyed this book so much I spilled water all over my library copy and had to purchase it….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book sounds absolutely fabulous! 🙂


  5. Pingback: A Plan For A Future That Is Out There – Gathering Books

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