Here We Are, by Oliver Jeffers – the picture book he wrote and illustrated as an introduction to the world we live in, when his son was born a couple of years ago – is truly inspiring. I sort of wish I’d thought to do something of the kind, if only I could draw pictures the way Oliver can.
He has long been among my favourite illustrators, and this book proves how good he is.
Starting with Ursas Major and Minor, and moving on to our solar system, and then Earth, Oliver moves ‘down a level’ for each page spread. Our planet is dry and wet, hot, cold, flat, sharp, and so on. Fish and treasure in the sea in one direction, and breathable air, the stratosthingy and outer space in the opposite direction.
Then there’s people, all different, but all the same, too. We should look after our bodies as not all parts grow back if detached. Animals; quite a few kinds of them. Day and night, taking it easy and being busy.
And to remember to ask Oliver any questions (although that might only be an invitation to Master Jeffers, and not all of us), and if he’s not here, there are quite a few others on Earth.
I’d really have liked having this book to hand 25 years ago. Life can be so abstract and hard to explain, when there isn’t as much shared language as you tend to have later.