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The Children's Bookshelf: If You Come to Earth

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IF YOU COME TO EARTH written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall is a feast of details concerning things that characterize our planet and reveal us to us and us to others in all of our diversity.

As the story begins a young boy named Quinn is writing an open letter to anyone from another planet who plans to visit Earth regarding what they need to know about how we dress, what we eat, where we work and how we get along until we don’t. Young readers will easily spot Quinn in the illustrations, wearing a red ski cap, as he walks, skates, draws, eats, reads and tells the story of Earth.

The illustrations, rendered in Chinese ink and watercolor, have a delightful and engaging voice throughout the book. They speak visually about many things including the wide variety of structures that Earthlings live in from apartment buildings, farmhouses and skyscrapers to boathouses, trailers, grass-thatched structures and castles!  

Another eye-popping illustration shows the Earth’s people “on the move” using some 70 different modes of moving including in cars, buses, vans, tugboats, motorcycles, airplanes, and balloons and on barges, tractors, trains, rowboats, and skateboards.

Quinn continues to tell possible visitors about the life they will see on Earth as the pages of this well-designed book roll by. Three magnificent double spread illustrations are devoted to the creatures in the sea, the animals on the land and the birds in the sky. All of the eighty illustrations in this picture book will captivate.

IF YOU COME TO EARTH written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, the winner of two past Caldecott Awards, will visually charm and inform children 5-8 years of age about their planet (chronicle books, 2020).

The Children’s Bookshelf in a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and the activity questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for If You Come to Earth

Younger Readers: Play an I SPY game entitled Where’s Quinn? Look through all of the illustrations again and: Find Quinn with his family, find Quinn running a race, making a face, dressing up, walking in rain, skateboarding in traffic, reading a book, being helpful, playing music, and making a new friend.

Older Readers: Look at the double spread illustration of the many people who live on Earth eating around a table. Can you identify in what countries these people live or come from? You can find clues by studying the foods they are eating and the clothes they are wearing---including the hats and the headgear. If you were to join them what clothes would you be wearing and what food would you be eating? Draw a picture of you at this table full of diversity.

Identify all of the small things that have be made by people on Earth. Can you add fifteen more small things to this picture? Hunt around the house but make sure the objects are small and they have been made by people and not nature. Have fun!