In Here We Are, acclaimed picture book creator Oliver Jeffers gently, beautifully reminded us all of our place on the Earth and the wonders around us worth protecting. He returns to these themes in a related title, Book of Numbers, which offers a similar message to small humans: here is the world, and here is what we have, and here you are, and welcome. But it’s also a practical book, as one might guess from the title: a board book designed to help babies and toddlers learn how to count from one to ten (with a lovely reminder at the end of infinity, or ‘how much I love you’ as the parent explains to the child).
Book of Numbers and its companion, Book of Animals (a straightforward A-Z of animals, not to be confused with Jeffers’s more complex and far zanier alphabet book, An Alphabet of Stories), are ideal as introductions to Jeffers’s work as well as their subject matter. Book of Numbers is the more interactive of the two, inviting the child reader to search for the different items as they count up, particularly when arriving at ‘10 ways to travel’.
The quirky images, complete with Jeffers’s idiosyncratic handwriting and his distinctive figures (watch out for the spindly limbs and sausage-noses), move between humans and the wider universe, subtly fostering self-compassion and empathy alongside the more overt focus on numbers. Here are ‘8 body parts’, followed with a parenthetical ‘look after them’. This is a book that will stay enjoyable after inevitable endless rereads.