Tag Archives: Oliver Jeffers

#BookADayUK Should Have Sold More Copies

Another theme that stumped me, I don’t know a lot about book sales. So I’ve chosen a picture book about numbers instead…

The Hueys in None the Number: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2014)The Hueys in None the Number: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2014)

This is the third in the Hueys series, which seem to follow a philosophical theme. All Hueys books would be good to kickstart discussions in a classroom or home setting.

None the Number could be seen as a counting book for young children, that also introduces the concept of zero; it could be seen as something surreal (3 is a collection of chairs, 7 is oranges balanced on some things…); or it could be seen as a fun but silly story with a bunch of loveable characters.

This is my personal favourite of the three Huey books so far, but sadly none of them have caught the imagination of MG or DG. Although they’re not for us, I recommend them for their uniqueness and power to make you think.

Disclosure: The Hueys in None the Number received for review from HarperCollins Children’s Books.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

The Day the Crayons Quit: Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)

The Day the Crayons Quit: Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

A book review, at last! Having managed only two last month, and three the month before that, this book blog is severely lacking in actual books. But I now have actual time to write, so picking one more or less at random… Okay, I lie, there’s something that bugged me about this book and so I chose to write about it first.

Warning: review may contain spoilers.

I’m going to start with saying I’m not a big Oliver Jeffers fan. I utterly love Stuck, and I like most of his other picture books, but… I don’t know, that writing style appears on everything these days and it gets a bit boring. So unlike many, I don’t jump up and down just because something has ‘Oliver Jeffers’ written on it (which is not the same as saying I don’t like his books at all.)

In the case of The Day the Crayons Quit, the writing and art style that Jeffers has fits perfectly with the storyline of letters written by crayons to their owner. As a concept, the book is a winner. I love to imagine inanimate objects having a life while you’re not looking, and getting letters from them as a child would be awesome.

The book includes ‘letters’ from red, purple, beige, grey, white, black, green, orange, yellow, blue, pink and peach crayons to a boy called Duncan complaining about their lot  (over use, under use, repetitive use, nakedness etc) and beseeching him to improve their lives. Which he does, in a fab way.

In summary: great concept, pictures and text work well together, fun story, great interest for children. I think it will appeal to KS1/KS2 children more than the pre-school/EYFS age range. I’d recommend it as a good read etc.

So, what’s my problem? It’s my annoying attention to detail and picking up contradictions. We have, in the eleventh letter to Duncan, the pink crayon complaining that its never been used once in the last year apart from by his sister (to colour in a princess, because of course that’s what girls do rather than cowboys, dinosaurs and monsters that boys draw; this page is not endearing itself to me!) But let’s go back through the book so far, shall we? In the second letter (purple), the wizard has a pink nose and mouth. In the fourth letter (grey), the hippo has pink nostrils. In the eighth letter (yellow), there’s a pink pig and a pink basket!

The final picture, that’s supposed to placate all the crayons, also doesn’t answer all the questions. I can’t see beige, but there’s a brown bear. It doesn’t look beige to me. Blue has still been used lots when it asked not to. Did Duncan choose orange as the colour of the sun then, but what about poor yellow or is the colour of the sky meant to mean sunshine? And what about peach, is it still naked? If I were those crayons, I’d still be on strike…

Seriously though, this is such a fun book, and with older children you can discuss potential contradictions and anomalies (and why they might be there), and maybe think up letters from their crayons / pens / pencils – what would the complaints be in your house? Our felt tips would definitely complain of being left ‘headless’ and dehydrated without their tops.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The Day the Crayons Quit by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me by Oliver Jeffers

The Hueys in It Wasn't Me: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2013)

The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2013)

It Wasn’t Me is the sequel to The New Jumper. Both books could be used as a basis for philosophy for children, and I think would be good discussed by older primary aged children. They don’t work as well as stories, but this is not a bad thing (unless that’s what you’re looking for!)

In It Wasn’t Me, a group of Hueys are arguing. Although when Gillespie asks why, none of them can remember. The visual descriptions of the arguments work very well, so the book could be used to discuss emotions and arguments. I really do see the Hueys as books to use for discussion more than story books.

I asked MG and DG what they thought of both books. They both prefered “the orange one” but I may have biased them by speaking first. Asking about “the blue one”, MG told me the story was about a fly and DG told me the story was about fighting. MG did not like the “scribbles” – I think the negative emotion contained makes her feel uncomfortable. DG liked the speech bubbles changing colours, and the flying elephant.

I’m not entirely sure what the story was really about to be honest. Who killed the fly?! A book that makes you think, but might tie your brain in knots 😉

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of It Wasn’t Me by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Of Moose and Landscapes

The link may be tenuous but both these picture books are lovely, written & illustrated by stellar talents, and include a moose plus gorgeous natural backdrops…

This Moose Belongs To Me: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2012)This Moose Belongs To Me: Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2012)

Somehow, this is only Oliver Jeffers tenth picture book. And although his style is distinct, and the books (the ones I’ve read anyhow) share a surrealism that just works, every one is so very different. This Moose Belongs to Me is a complete contrast to his last book The Hueys in The New Jumper, being full of colour and detail where the previous book was minimalistic.

Wilfred owned a moose. At least, Wilfred thought he owned a moose. The moose had other ideas.  In fact, the moose is just himself getting along with his life while others try to stamp ideas of ownership and rules onto him. These rules can’t contain nature and the moose carries on doing moose things in a beautiful landscape.

On the one hand, a beautiful and deep tale; on the other, a lightly surreal and humourous picture book. It works on many levels, or you can just drool over the beautiful painted landscapes.

Oliver Jeffers has the kind of talent where you’d probably buy his shopping list if he published it, knowing that it wouldn’t be quite what you expected and probably gorgeously illustrated to boot!

A House In The Woods: Inga Moore (Walker, 2011)A House In The Woods: Inga Moore (Walker, 2011)

This book is a slice of utter perfection, gorgeously illustrated and beautifully observed. There are too many details to love so my review will not do it the slightest justice, it really is a must-own book.

Two little pigs build a house of… Ooops, no, it’s not that story! But it does start with two little pigs – one builds a den, and one builds a hut. Except when they have unexpected (but friendly, and very welcome) visitors in the form of bear and moose who accidentally wreck their homes, the four friends set out to build their own house with the help of the beavers (because it’s too complex a job just for them). In two double spreads with minimal words and lots of picture, the beavers are shown felling trees (cue a conversation about how beavers use their teeth from a curious MG) and start to build (cue more discussion about how they’re cutting the leaves off to use the tree trunks, and yet more on house building – MG was really engaged by the themes in this book).

It is a perfect book for MG at the moment because her school has forest school sessions so she’s built dens in the woods with her friends, and their last half-term theme was homes so she’s been talking about types of houses (detached, terrace etc) and eras (“is it a Victorian house?”) and building their own houses from shoeboxes…

This is a lovely, non-threatening, friendly and co-operative story with lots of interest points to start discussions (“that’s a funny looking phone…”) It’s set in the anthropomorphic equivalent of times gone by, and we all love it. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of This Moose Belongs to Me by HarperCollins Children’s Books for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

The New Jumper by Oliver Jeffers

As I said in my Fiction Fridays post for Stuck, we’re fairly new to Oliver Jeffers in the Chaos household. But his work is very easy to fall in love with so we’re already fans!

The New Jumper is the first in a planned four book series about The Hueys, egg-shaped characters who are ‘all the same’. This story follows Rupert, a Huey who does something different. It’s a story about individuality, and a good book to approach philosophy for children, posing interesting questions about what’s different or the same:

The pencil sketch style encourages children to have a go, and the use of occasional colour pages highlights the Hueys nicely. There is a surprisingly large amount of character and detail in the minimalist art and the book really is a joy to read over again. MG and DG think it’s good fun, MG calls it “the egg book” and loves that she can make her own Huey online too.

Because The Hueys is having a big launch, there are fun things online to play with. You can make your own Huey, here’s MG’s:

… and here’s mine:

Yesterday there was a PDF of Huey’s activity sheets to download from here, but I can’t get it work today so finger’s crossed it will because there was a Huey to colour in, to cut out, spot the difference and a maze.

The trailer for the book:

You can also download sample pages from Oliver’s books from LoveReading4Kids (registration needed).

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of The New Jumper by HarperCollins for review. No other financial reward was given and the opinions are my own. I was not asked to write this post.

Fiction Fridays #29: Stuck

Stuck: Oliver Jeffers (2011)

IT ALL BEGAN when Floyd got his kite stuck in A TREE.

Read more about Fiction Fridays here.
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Extra Info:
Stuck isn’t the first Oliver Jeffers book we read, but it was the first one to be given proper attention as the other was borrowed from the library and ignored in favour of others borrowed that time so not fully appreciated. We got Stuck at the end of last year, and have been building up a small collection of his books since.

It seems everyone knows far more about Oliver Jeffers than I do so I’m probably ‘preaching to the converted’ but this is such a wonderful book. It is from the completely surreal stock of picture books which children either happily take for granted or laugh along at the absurdity.

In Stuck, a boy called Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree and tries to get it back by throwing a series of larger and more improbable objects into the tree to dislodge it. One of my favourite lines is: “A lighthouse to knock down the house no longer across the street…” It’s hugely imaginative, hilariously funny and ends with a quote from The Italian Job (1969). What more could you possibly want from a picture book?!

Here is a video of Oliver reading Stuck: