Blackall, Sophie. If You Come to Earth. Sophie Blackall, Illus. Picture Book. Chronicle, 09/2020. 76pp. $18.99. 978-1-4521-3779-7. OUTSTANDING. GRADES PRE-2.
Red-hatted Quinn lies on his bed composing, on an endless scroll of paper, a letter to extraterrestrials that begins, “Dear Visitor from Outer Space, if you come to Earth, here’s what you need to know.” What follows in this long-form picture book is a basic primer on Planet Earth, its inhabitants, and the things that would help to get a new resident up to speed: what the planet looks like, what creatures exist here, how we behave, how we spend our time, etc. There’s a logical flow to the text and illustrations with one spread often directly bleeding into or, more often, leading into the next spread in some fashion: i.e., one spread with the text, “Sometimes we hurt each other” has a tight layout depicting fighting brothers at the top and a monochromatic battle among dozens of soldiers at the bottom with the next spread saying, “It’s better when we help each other” and features an airy, brightly colored library setting with various depictions of people giving one another comfort and assistance. The vividly-colored and breathtakingly-detailed Chinese inkand-watercolor illustrations paint a highly diverse set of people throughout—in one spread you can spot Beyoncé, Justice Ginsberg, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, and Blackall herself—and a number of fictional characters who make return appearances throughout the book. Blackall’s latest is a true visual feast, making it one to return to and pore over again and again.
Eric Barbus, San Francisco Public Library