“Stunning and deep, a rich exploration of Earth and all its inhabitants unlike any other.”
The book opens as a little boy—Quinn—lays on his bed penning a letter to a “Visitor from Outer Space,” letting them know everything they’ll need to know about the Earth (and its inhabitants!) when they arrive. Exquisite detail and diversity permeate the book, as two-time Caldecott winner Blackall pairs the matter-of-fact text of Quinn’s letter with gorgeous spreads showcasing the Earth’s geography, people, plants, animals, marine life, weather, facial expressions, modes of transportation, occupations, hobbies, and more. Blackall addresses deep topics in the illustrations with absolute poignancy—a triangle of those who have lost their homes (due to fire, flood and war) is included in the spread showcasing different types of homes (along with a castle closely resembling Neuschwanstein, a trailer, a lighthouse, and more), one page captures the impact of disease and accident as six people lay on hospital beds, and another simultaneous highlights conflict by juxtaposing two children wrestling and a greyscale war (with some soldiers oozing red blood)—in a child-appropriate way. In an author’s note at the book’s conclusion, Blackall shares that most of the people illustrated are actual people, which adds an additional layer of meaning and vibrancy to this well-crafted and striking book. Each and every page is a work of art, with new details to marvel at and explore on each re-reading.
This book is an ambitious undertaking, and while not every part spoke to me (like school being where we go to learn what to do when we’re adults and not knowing anything about what happens before or after this life), and one part about war was illustrated in a way that would probably distract my young readers from the point being made, there are still really praiseworthy moments with remarkable illustrations.
Sophie Blackall (www.sophieblackall.com) is the illustrator of several award-winning picture books, including <i>Meet Wild Boars</i> by Meg Rosoff, <i>Pecan Pie Baby </i>by Jacqueline Woodson, <i>Big Red Lollipop</i> (by Rukhsana Khan), and the Ivy and Bean books by Annie Barrows. Her many honors include a <i>BCCB</i> Blue Ribbon, Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award, Society of Illustrators Founders Award, <i>Publishers Weekly</i> Best Children’s Book, <i>Book Sense</i> 76 Pick, and <i>New York Times</i> Top Ten Picture Book. Her artwork has also appeared in murals as part of the New York City MTA’s “Arts for Transit” program. Previously she has had jobs in a shoe shop and a robot factory. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
For everyone on Earth, especially the children, especially those I met in Rwanda, India, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Australia, and the USA, and especially Ms. Greta’s second grade class at the Brooklyn New School. I promised I would try to make a book about all of us and the planet we share. This is it. And for the real Quinn and his family, Elliott, Caroline, and Jolyon. You make the world a better place.