Out of this world: ‘Meanwhile Back on Earth’ by Oliver Jeffers
November 16, 2022
Oliver Jeffers’ is back in his inimitable style, this time exploring time, space and human history for young readers. This colourful picture book has such a clever premise: Dad takes his two kids, prone to squabbling as humans do, on a car trip. Suddenly they are space bound, heading for the moon, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto…while looking into the ‘year-view mirror’ to see what was happening on Earth in each time period.
Sadly, of course, in every one, humans are still squabbling, warring, building huge walls to keep other humans out, travelling to new places to find other people to fight…
The story combines a gallop through the history of humanity and its conflicts, with a guide to the universe, and a plea for all people to consider the fragility of our existence in the vastness of our universe and join together rather than continue to battle each other.
It’s not a ‘downer’ of a story, because of the kind and witty way in which it is told, the deceptively simple illustrations, and because at the end, the children are invited to return home and after all, as Neil Armstrong apparently said:
No matter where you travel, it’s always nice to get home.
Here is Oliver Jeffers talking about where the idea for the book came from.
Meanwhile Back on Earth is another of Jeffers’ surprising, quirky and beautiful picture books for young readers, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in October 2022.