Here We Are

“Here We Are: Notes on Living on Planet Earth” includes everything a baby or toddler needs to know about our big, wonderful world.

It’s the newest creation of virtuoso picture book author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers, and is worthy of being named the December Baby Buzz Pick.

Each month The Missourian selects a quality hardcover book to suggest for children birth to age 5, and a review of that Baby Buzz Pick runs in the second weekend issue of The Missourian. Following is this month’s review:

A longtime favorite of many, Oliver Jeffers offers his brand of quirky humor in this picture book he wrote for his infant son. It’s a fitting addition to a family’s library because the book will grow with its reader — initially a parent can cuddle a baby on his or her lap and point to the images, everything from stars to animals, to land forms, and oceans — you name it, Jeffers has included it — and named too. As a child gets older, the items and concepts can be explained as the book is shared.

On the page detailing land forms, Jeffers shows a desert with a single cactus, the words “Dry” and “Hot” on the sand, while next to it a small pool of water surrounded by cattails is labeled “Wet.” In the background the landscape shows a volcano erupting “Hot,” while beside it a peak is described as “Pointy.”

This type of humor is Jeffers’ calling card, and he shines as he offers his tour of the cosmos, including planets and constellations. Back on Earth, Jeffers gets philosophical as he assures the child taking his tour that, “People come in many shapes, sizes and colors. We may all look different, act different and sound different . . . but don’t be fooled, we are all people,” on a spread with small illustrations of every type of person imaginable.

It’s a spread kids will use to pick out their favorites — from a tattooed chef flipping a fish in a skillet, to a bagpiper, to a Florence Nightingale-like nurse, all diverse and rich with details.

Nobody blends zany with wise better than Jeffers, his final pages touching as a young father holds his infant in front of a long line of folks who grow smaller, finally disappearing on the horizon. But not before a daddy assures his little guy that if he has questions and dad’s not around “ . . . you can always ask someone else. You’re never alone on Earth.”

Jeffers’ world tour is a tour de force, a welcome addition to his long list of books. My personal favorite is “Stuck,” which is laugh-out-loud fun for everyone.