cover image If You Come to Earth

If You Come to Earth

Sophie Blackall. Chronicle, $18.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-4521-3779-7

Meeting children from around the world gave Caldecott Medalist Blackall (Hello Lighthouse) a vision of a book “that would bring us together,” she explains in an author’s note. This exquisite catalogue of human experience is the result. A child with an elfin red cap, white skin, and black hair frames the story, addressing a “Visitor from Outer Space.” Magnificent spreads journey through the solar system and descend toward the Earth’s surface, zeroing in on a quilted landscape. Fragmentary, often droll descriptions of Earth-side existence follow, about bodies and aging, home and travel, eating and drinking (“Some of us have more food than others”), and relationships (“Sometimes we hurt each other. It’s better when we help each other”). Wide-eyed human characters of varying shapes, ethnicities, and abilities show kind regard for each other: a librarian offers a tissue to a man overcome, dinner table companions share animated conversation. Even for the accomplished Blackall, the artwork is dazzling. Encyclopedic paintings of the natural world—birds, sea life, an acorn, and more—are rendered in painstaking detail and brilliant colors. It is a book that can be shared with strangers, visitors, friends old and new—a work in which differences build to reveal an inclusive human family on a single, precious planet. Ages 5–8. (Sept.)