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.
Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Published by Philomel Books (2017)
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.)