Here We Are

Day 14, and we have …

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Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, by Oliver Jeffers, published by Harper Collins’ Children’s Books

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Imagine that there was a simple guide that told you everything you need to know about living on Planet Earth. A guide that spells out the basics of what life here entails and what you need to know and do in order to get by, such as:

– that people come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours
– daytime is when we all do things, and nighttime is when we have a rest (usually)
– even though animals cannot speak our language, this is no reason to be unkind to them

This is the basic gist of Jeffers’ book – his first foray into non-fiction. Jeffers himself says that his book is: “the most basic principles of humanity in an extremely holistic, sometimes comedic, way” and that the inspiration came from his experience as a first-time parent, when he went out walking with his son. “As we were walking around he would look up, fascinated with things, and I started explaining things to him. I wrote down notes and, before I knew it, I had basically written this set of guides for him.”

However, behind this ‘simple’ message is something more profound and aimed perhaps more at the adults who might be reading the book with their children. It’s not any complicated, yet it is something that we often forget in our daily lives – the importance of respect. Not just for other people, but for animals, materials and the Earth as a whole. We have perhaps become so used to having what we want, regardless at what expense, that we’re not really thinking about the impact. Simply put, we need to be kinder – to each other and everything else. There’s a lovely quote at the back of the book that Jeffers has included from a very wise man: his dad. It goes like this: “There are only three words you need to live by, son: respect, consideration and tolerance.”

Accompanying the text are Jeffers’ trademark illustrations, full of personality, colour and meaning. There’s just so much to see in them, you could spend hours pouring over the spreads and finding something new and exciting. I never tire of them.

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I’ve yet to share this with the children in the Library but I’ll report back when I do. I am sure they’ll love it as much as I do.

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