Oliver Jeffers’ Here We Are looks like and behaves like a standard picture book for pre-schoolers.
It is a large, almost square book and though portrait in orientation it is big enough for adult and child to share. It has scant text which is formatted in an adult serif font with difficult ‘a’s and ‘g’s. The pictures give more information than the text. Yet the information in it is probably for the older child. Indeed,
the information in it is so important that it is appropriate that the text is shared between child and adult.
It brings a totally positive message. Its subtitle is “Notes for Living on the Plant Earth”. It is the point of view of parent explaining to a child what the world is about. A message in the front papers says “The book was written in the first two months of your life as I tried to make sense of it all for you”. Or is it that the writer is trying to make sense of it all for himself and other adults?
We start off with a description of our place in the universe and then we explore the planet Earth in more detail. We look at the land, the sea, and what we can see in the sky at night. Then we move on to the human body and its needs. There are double spreads showing all sorts of human beings and all sorts of animals. The writer recognises that the child will have all sorts of questions. He also tackles time and warns that it goes by quickly.
There is enough for everyone - physically, intellectually and emotionally. There are a lot of people in the world to love and be loved by.
The book rejoices in abundance and positivity.
The only tiny shadow is the warning about time slipping by.