Review

Book review: ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth’ by Oliver Jeffers

This Christmas, encourage young minds to think of the Earth not just as their home but as a planet that must be taken care of, with this beautiful book by renowned illustrator and children’s author Oliver Jeffers.

Have you ever taken the time to think about how remarkable the Earth really is? “The big globe, floating in space, on which we live,” as Jeffers puts it, is an intricate, delicate ecosystem, home to many billions of people and animals, which is capable of providing sustenance and creating the building blocks for a life well lived.  

The world can be a bewildering place, says Jeffers, especially if you have only just got here, and with this in mind, ‘Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth’ takes all new earthlings on a delightful journey, introducing the many marvellous things that make up our home planet.

‘Here We Are’ is a beautiful, heart-warming book, which is perfect for little minds as they prepare to start their journey into the great unknown. The story is made all the more uplifting when one hears of its origins. Jeffers, having just returned from the hospital following the birth of his first child, and brimming with joy, pride, and an overwhelming desire to nurture, came up with the idea for the book while introducing his baby to their new home.

So ‘here we are’ – each page of the book glistens with the glow of new parenthood, each page awash with comforting illustrations and Jeffers’s soothing words. With little text, and many an intricate, yet approachable diagram, Jeffers describes the bare bones of the Earth, delving into the basics of the land – from mountain ranges, flat plains, deserts, volcanoes and lakes – the sea, the sky, the human body, animals and night and day. The book does little more than set the scene, allowing for questions, answers and conversation to flourish.

In a few short pages, ‘Here We Are’ covers all the basic topics sure to induce curiosity in any young mind, and conveys the message that it is OK to wonder, and to ask questions, because just as there are all sorts things to learn about on Earth, so too are there lots of people to ask questions to, and learn from.

Like all good children’s books, ‘Here We Are’ is a story that has just as much to offer for adults as it does children. For any parents, carers and family sharing this book with new arrivals there is an important message – to be kind, and take care of the Earth, as it really is all we have.

The truth is that many people who call the Earth home sometimes forget to take care of it. Anyone who owns a car knows the things you need to go to keep it running smoothly: fill it up with petrol and oil, get a regular service and go easy on the gears. The same is true for houses, which the diligent homeowner will ensure are regularly cleaned and tended to, serviced and maintained. When it comes to Earth, though, we are a little less conscientious.

Jeffers new book, which for children acts an introduction to the marvels of the Earth, and a handbook for making the most of your time here, serves as a reminder for anyone who might have let their passion for the Earth slip, of how wonderful a place our home planet truly is.

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