Here We Are: A Special Edition
What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future
If You Come to Earth
A new baby’s arrival is a momentous event, often celebrated with gifts of various shapes and sizes — everything from soft onesies to colourful crib mobiles to plush teddy bears to practical savings bonds. The best gift, in my mind, is a book — any book, but especially one that can serve as cornerstone to building a home library for this new girl or boy.
Here, three titles that perfectly meet that need. While their publishers might recommend an age range of from two to eight years, my suggestion would be that they are suitable for anyone ranging from infancy to middle grade years.
Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers, was the first of these three books to see the light of day, initially published in 2017 to celebrate the arrival of his first child, son Harland. A special edition, with a dust jacket that unfolds to a dramatic poster of the solar system, suitable for framing, emerged late last year.
Subtitled Notes for Living on Planet Earth, this book welcomes the new arrival on Earth and explains what he/she will find there. Beginning with the planet’s location in space, the author/illustrator leads us on a tour of the land and water areas, the inhabitants of both, and the fact that both people and animals come in many shapes, sizes and colours.
The accompanying illustrations are detailed, inclusive and beautiful — the kind of art in which children can lose (and find) themselves. The brief texts, too, are comforting and thoughtful. “It looks big, Earth,” Jeffers tells us. “But there are lots of us on here / so be kind. / There is enough for everyone.”
What We’ll Build, which Jeffers created for his daughter, Mari, appeared in print earlier this month.
This volume, just as beautifully illustrated, features a father and his little girl building the things they need to enjoy life on Earth — beginning with “a door / where there was none.” And “a house / to be our home.”
If You Come to Earth purports to be a guide for any visitor from outer space, composed by Quinn, a young boy, in his bedroom.
Like the Jeffers book Here We Are, it starts with the planet’s position in space: “You can find us near a big sun / and a tiny moon / and a bunch of other planets. / Ours is the greeny-blue one.”
(Both author/illustrators were aware of each other’s books and that they happened to be tackling similar subjects. In fact, they’ve each provided a nod to the other’s accomplishment by showing a child reading If You Come to Earth in Here We Are, and vice versa.)
— Bernie Goedhart