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YOU ARE HERE by Zach Manbeck


by Zach Manbeck ; illustrated by Zach Manbeck

Pub Date: May 10th, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-79721-010-0
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Manbeck offers direction for life’s journeys in his children’s book debut.

Using just one or two pithy sentences per page, the text encourages readers to bravely forge their own paths in the world. Whatever one hopes to accomplish or whatever one’s destination in life, the starting point is “here,” a point of view that suggests that there is power and wisdom in embracing the present moment. Manbeck assures readers that “you can go anywhere!” and includes all-caps imperatives on almost every double-page spread: “Begin”; “Take your time”; “Keep going”; “Be patient”; etc. A major thrust of the narrative is the futility of comparing oneself to others since every person is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all formula for how life should unfold. The whimsical illustrations, rendered in gouache and mixed media with digital editing, show sprightly children and their childlike anthropomorphic animal companions romping on giant fantastical play structures that recall Rube Goldberg machines. Some spreads feature a montage of the characters adventurously exploring a range of fun activities: butterfly watching, rollerblading, riding a penny-farthing, etc. Flowers and butterflies—with their associated meanings of transformation, hope, courage, success, and new beginnings—are used liberally as motifs throughout the colorful artwork. The characters have various skin tones, and one of them uses a wheelchair. Many wear party hats, conveying a mood of celebration; indeed, this book would make a good baby-shower or graduation gift.

An uplifting ode to the power of taking small steps to make big changes.

(Gift book. 0-5, adult)