Books Early Readers Genre Joy and Peace in Literature Lifespan of a Reader Picture Books Reading Themes

A Plan For A Future That Is Out There

... waiting to be built, Oliver-Jeffers-style.

What We’ll Build: Plans For Our Together Future [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Published by Philomel Books (2020)
ISBN: 0593206754 (ISBN13: 9780593206751) Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me.

For those who are following Oliver Jeffers’ career closely (I am raising my virtual hand here), it is fairly evident how Jeffers’ own family is growing with each new book he creates. While Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth (Amazon | Book Depository) was dedicated to his son, this newest book of his is written for his daughter and Granny Marie.

For the past year, people had been suspending or postponing their plans. It seems futile to plan for anything given the sudden and unexpected lockdowns, the uncertainty that permeates everything, the new virus strains that are popping out from Brazil, South Africa, the United Kingdom. There is much loss and an all-encompassing grief that we do not have the luxury to truly comprehend – as people scramble to make a living with what is made available through the internet and our virtual existence that has become all-consuming.

Yet this book has comforted me and given me joy. It envisions a future that is out there that can be built ever-so-gradually with whimsy and hope. “I’ll build your future and you’ll build mine. We’ll build a watch to keep our time.” I love this line because it suggests that the child’s presence in the parent’s life also changes their parents’ future irrevocably – it is not just a unidirectional type of change, but a bidirectional one.

Apart from building doors, walls, windows, gates, tables, holes and towers, there is also “A place to stay when all is lost, to keep the things we love the most.” Jeffers has this uncanny ability to disarm me. His sentiments are never maudlin, but clear-voiced and genuine. This is a beautiful book. Share with everyone you meet, and plan for the future ahead. There is much to do, indeed.

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).

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