Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth Book Poster Image
A dad's witty guide to the world his baby's been born into.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of simple facts about the earth and the humans and animals that live here, delivered with dry wit, such as "when the sun is out, it's daytime and we do stuff. The rest of the time is night, when it is dark, save for the moon, and we sleep. (Please?)" A diagram of the human body identifies some basics, such as heart, lungs, bones. A two-page diagram of the sky and outer space, with constellations, other planets, may be too complicated for some very young kids. 

Positive Messages

"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 poeple." "It looks big, Earth. But there are lots of us on here (7,327,450,667 and counting), so be kind. There is enough for everyone." Make sure you look after Planet Earth, "as it's all we've got." "If you need to know about anything, just ask. I won't be far away. And when I'm not around ... you can always ask someone else. You're never alone on Earth." "Use your time well."

Positive Role Models & Representations

The narrator is the parent of the baby to whom the book is addressed. We see him holding the baby on title page, across from the dedication to the author's son: "This book was written in the first two months of your life as I tried to make sense of it all for you. These are the things I think you need to know." His humorous guide promotes kindness, tolerance, and taking care of the earth. 

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that author-illustrator Oliver JeffersHere We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth is a humorous guide to our planet aimed at one of its new arrivals: the author's baby. He adopts a tongue-in-cheek tone as he takes a "quick tour" of our planet, offering a few highlights about the land, sea, and sky that surrounds us. It also talks about the humans who live on Earth, with simple advice, such as: "The most important things for people to remember are to eat, drink, and stay warm." This book is sure to be a popular gift at baby showers, and little kids who are gathering facts about the world will enjoy it as well.  

User Reviews

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Parent of a 1-year-old Written byMischa A. May 29, 2021
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byJamie B. April 3, 2018

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What's the story?

WE ARE HERE: NOTES FOR LIVING ON PLANET EARTH aims to be a guidebook for a new baby -- laying out a few facts he'll need to know about the planet where he now lives. It starts with placing Earth among the planets in the solar system, then moves on to the land ("rock and dirt") and sea ("water"), people, and animals. 

Is it any good?

This lighthearted guide to our planet is a charming way of imagining what a new baby will need to know about Earth and grow up to learn and experience. There's dry humor in the narrator's tone, such as telling the new baby to take care of his body, "as most bits of it don't grown back." Animals, he notes, "can't speak, though that's no reason not to be nice to them." And, "You will figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else." Author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers' colorful illustrations draw readers in and give them lots to look at, from an underwater scene with octopus, whale, seal, and dolphin to a two-page spread of diverse humans in various activities, professions, and ethnic dress. 

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth is loaded with positive messages about tolerance, responsibility, and taking care of Earth, but it's all done with humor and never preachy. There's much to enjoy for a variety of ages, including new parents.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way the world is presented in Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth. What things do you think a baby needs to know about the planet we live on? 

  • Which pictures do you like best: ones that show the land, the ocean, or the sky? What's fun about them? 

  • On the two pages showing different kinds of animals, can you name all the ones shown? Which ones are your favorites? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and books about the earth

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