What We’ll Build

Plans For Our Together Future

Oliver Jeffers

Harper Collins Children’s – 6th October 2020

‘What shall we build, you and I?’

Just when you think Oliver Jeffers’ work can’t get any better, he releases yet another stunner. Every bit as wonderful as his other books ‘What We’ll Build’ is the story of parenthood; the hopes and dreams we have for our children’s futures, the protection we give them and the sharing of ever-lasting love.

Jeffers wrote this book for his daughter Mari and it is the story of a father and daughter exploring the endless possibilities and adventures that they can enjoy as they build their lives together.

The story begins with the father and daughter building a door, symbolic of the many doors we can open for our children as parents and educators. Open doors stand for opportunity, hope and positivity which are recurrent themes in the book.

The father-daughter duo build their home, the only material thing they construct, and then they invest their time in the importance of building love, hope, resilience, forgiveness and warmth. The tools are laid out at the very beginning, a selection of hammers, saws, drills (and a tiny pink pig!) from a shiny, red toolbox but we come to realise that the real ‘tools’ we need as parents when building our futures together are trust, comfort, compassion, unconditional love. The toolbox appears throughout the book as if to remind us that we carry these tools around with us on our parenting journey.

The striking illustrations in Jeffers’ instantly-recognisable signature style are simply delightful and so detailed that each time of reading you will notice something new. Young children will enjoy spotting the little pink pig throughout the story and the penguin, a well-loved recurring character in Jeffers’ books makes an appearance.

The image of the daughter’s tiny hands alongside her father’s on the very first page caused me to reflect on how much my own children (5 and 7 years) have grown already and the importance of enjoying every minute I have with them. The final image of the father’s hands holding those teeny-tiny hands in his gave me a lump in my throat – as parents, we really do hold our children’s futures in the palm of our hands and sometimes it feels such an over-whelming responsibility crafting, shaping and assembling their dreams so that they can live their best possible life. It is also a reminder that our children shape our lives for the better and our hopes, aspirations and interests are intertwined.

In the classroom, ‘What We’ll Build’ is a great starting point for Primary-age children to articulate their hopes and aspirations for the future and the ‘tools’ they might need to achieve them. This is the perfect accompaniment to ‘Here We Are: plans for Our Together Future’ that many schools, including my own are using as a whole school text this September. Once again, Oliver Jeffers has created a book that can be appreciated on many different levels, again making it versatile enough to be enjoyed across school.

‘What We’ll Build’ is a timeless classic in the making for every parent and educator building a future for the children in their care.

With thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Children’s Books for providing me with a digital copy of the book to review in advance of publication.

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