If You Come to Earth

If You Come to Earth
Sophie Blackall
Chronicle Books

Award-winning author-illustrator Sophie Blackall’s inspiration for this book was her encounters with thousands of children she met while travelling the world in support of Save the Children and UNICEF – ‘a book that would bring us together’, she says in an author’s note at the end.

Her illustrations are truly breathtaking, as, by means of a child who is addressing a visitor from Outer Space, readers are taken on a journey through the solar system, down towards the surface of Earth viewing the various kinds of homes people live in, their families,

their bodies – each one different, their expressions as they think and feel, their clothing, weather both good and less so, transport, places of education and the work people do, how they spend their free time; we see some of the foods people eat. (Some of us have more food than others.’)

There’s an explanation of the importance of water, its sources and a stream of marine creatures swims majestically past. Then come Earth’s fauna: Those with feet and those with wings, leading us back to humans, their love of music making, their different ways of communicating (Some of us who are deaf talk with our hands and faces. Some of us who are blind read with our fingers’ caption a spread showing people signing and sign language, and braille with people reading it.)

With its incredible detail, each and every spread is truly a beautiful story in itself (or many) – there are natural things and those made by people, even invisible things. Sophie puts occasional humour into her narrative with such comments as ‘Some germs can make you sick. So … breathing in smoke or getting spat on by a slow loris’ (it’s venom really can cause great harm to humans).

Then come two spreads – one with fighting, the other facilitating, and the comment,’It’s better when we help each other.’( If only everybody stuck to that one)

The only sentence I took slight exception to is ‘Babies are not very good at anything.’ Babies are VERY good at learning – they do it pretty much all the time they’re awake as I observed when spending time with Faith, a six-month old relation the other day.

It’s good to see attention being given to storytelling, be it older people storying about the past, or children imagining.

The author concludes that there’s much we don’t know but ‘right this minute, we are here together on this beautiful planet.’ A fitting end to a gloriously illustrated, wonderful message. The visual detail is awesome and the importance of seeing each person as a unique, valued human being worthy of our respect and care, and of the vital necessity too caring for the Earth, shine through the entire book.

A must have for school and home.

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