Tag Archives: Oliver jeffers

A Child of Books

A Child of Books
Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Walker Books
I always thought I was the original ‘Child of Books’: certainly – thanks to my Dad – mine was a book-filled childhood. But it’s not so, and here’s the reason why: it’s a totally innovative and absolutely unique exploration of the power of story and storytelling that begins thus: ‘I am a child of Books. I come from a WORLD of stories.’ And thereafter, we are taken on an amazing journey of discovery that is also a celebration of classic tales from children’s literature.
Making up the waves of imagination upon which the girl and her raft float, are words from The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, Robinson Crusoe, The Swiss Family Robinson, The Count of Monte Cristo, Kidnapped, Gulliver’s Travels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Pinocchio

Assuredly the girl has already sailed across a sea of words but she has an invitation to join her in further journeying, an invitation taken up by a boy who goes with her into a host of magical story worlds; worlds fashioned through the
combination of Jeffers’ powerful images and signature handwriting, and Winston’s masterful typographic word wizardry.
Together the two children scale mountains …

and explore dark places, treasure seeking; they get lost in a forest whose trees (leaves aside) are all fairytales …

and then have to escape from a monstrous word beast, resident of a haunted castle.
As the journey progresses through imaginary lands, the scenes become brighter until the children’s shouts from outer space herald a riot of story-comprised colour.

Everything about this wonderful volume is so carefully considered by this inspired pairing; for instance there’s the stark contrast between Jeffers’ hand-written, lyrical narrative and Winston’s digitally manipulated lines from the classics. Talking of classics, this ground-breaking book is surely destined to become a modern classic. One wonders whether its creators might have read Tom Phillips’ A Humument.
I could go on waxing lyrical about this intertextual wonder but let me merely urge you to get hold of a copy of your own (and some to give). Free your mind, be enchanted and also see how many of the 42 classics you can discover for yourself between its awesome pages. It’s truly a work of art and a celebration of the imagination.

WNDB_Buttonlocalbookshops_NameImage-2

Board Books Briefing

DSCN7185 (800x600)

I Wish I Were a Pirate
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Sarah Ward
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
In a jolly rhyming narrative, a small boy entertains the possibilities of a piratical life sailing the seas, capturing a baddie of two …

DSCN7183 (800x600)

and of course, searching for buried treasure.
Small fingers will have lots of fun working the various sliders …

 

DSCN7184 (800x600)

and there’s plenty to amuse in Sarah Ward’s jolly nautical scenes, not least the activities of the stowaway mice.

DSCN7004 (800x600)

Cars Go
Steve Light
Chronicle Books
Bright watercolour illustrations accompany the irresistible onomatopoeic outpourings of the eight vehicles featured in this wide format board book.
With an old jalopy that goes CHITTYCHITTY CHITTYCHITTY KKKKTTT SHHPPPTTT SHHPPPTTT, a Monster Truck that goes KR-KR-KR KR-KR-KR- KRRUUUNCH and this beauty …

DSCN7005 (800x600)

You’re guaranteed a wonderfully noisy story session when you share this with early years children; and think of all that inbuilt sound/symbol awareness potential herein.
And, don’t you just love the playful finale …

DSCN7007 (800x600)

 

DSCN7288 (800x600)
Listen to the Jungle
Listen to the Things that Go
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
This pair of interactive board books with lots of noise making opportunities and amusing animal pictures should provide hours of fun for the very youngest. Lions, a hippo, monkeys, an elephant, pandas and parrots …

DSCN7181 (800x600)

plus a sprinkling of minibeasts and other birds inhabit the landscapes of the former, each being introduced with a single sentence such as ‘Listen to the hippo in the water.’
Each spread has a strategically placed button, which when pressed, makes the animal’s sound.
The Things that Go are cars, a lorry, a bike …

DSCN7177 (800x600)

a train, a boat and a tram and all the drivers, riders and passengers are animals.  
Both books, when shared with an adult, offer plenty of potential for talk about each spread. (And you can discretely turn the sound switch inside the back cover to the off position if you want to.)

DSCN7279 (800x600)

Mog and Me and other stories
Judith Kerr
Harper Collins Children’s Books
For a delightful introduction to the world of Mog for the very youngest, this is just the thing and, with its easy to read text, it’s ideal for beginning readers to share with their toddler siblings.

DSCN7280 (800x600)

Here in four brief stories, we meet not only the forgetful cat herself, but also members of her extended family.

DSCN7281 (800x600)

The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me
Oliver Jeffers
Harper Collins Children’s Books
The Hueys – usually a peaceable group of characters are having an argument when along comes Gillespie and dares to ask, “What are you fighting for?” but they’re too busy deciding who started it, so he tries again …

DSCN7282 (800x600)

Err …
The humour in this story of escalating conflict is subtle and quite sophisticated. It works well with 4s to 6s but one wonders whether it might go right over the heads of toddlers – the usual board book audience.

Use your local bookshop     localbookshops_NameImage-2

WNDB_Button

Conflict and Resolution

 

DSCN2421

Nina loves the idea of odd socks

Two Giants
Michael Foreman
Walker Books
How wonderful to see that Walker Books have brought back a Foreman story first published in the 1960s – one of his very early titles.
We meet two giants, great friends who live in a beautiful country where they make the birds sing and some even nest in their beards. Friends, that is, until one day they discover a pink shell and then oh dear, both want it for personal decoration. There follows a huge falling out,

DSCN2390

stones are thrown, a flood comes and the giants find themselves on opposite sides of a cold sea. In a continuous winter, the fight carries on; rocks are hurled, each giant scoring multiple hits and all the while their anger is growing. The thrown rocks become stepping stones for Sam, armed with huge club, to visit a sleeping Boris. Boris however wakes and a world shaking, club-waving charge takes place.
Just in time though the two notice their footwear (muddled in the scramble to escape the flood) and standing stock still, remember the old days of friendship but not what the fight was about.

DSCN2391

Time for a reconciliation … clubs tossed aside, the giants return to their islands, the sea recedes, wild life returns and before long all that separates the two mountains is a beautiful tree-filled valley where the seasons come and go once more and peace and harmony reigns. Guess what the friends now do as a reminder, no matter what …

DSCN2392

It’s interesting to see how Foreman’s style has evolved over the years. For this gently humorous fable he has used paint and torn or cut paper collage to build up the scenes.
A book that is likely to appeal to children’s sense of the ridiculous, particularly those, and I do know some, who like to wear odd socks.
Buy from Amazon

There is arguing too in this Hueys story newly out in paperback:

DSCN2370

The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me
Oliver Jeffers
Harper Collins Children’s Books pbk
The usually peaceable Hueys are having an argument; what is it all about? One of their number, Gillespie wants to know but his question merely provokes further squabbling among the others. He asks again, “What ARE you fighting about?” Hmm – good question but can they come up with an answer?

DSCN2394

Maybe distraction is a better form of conflict resolution in this situation …

DSCN2395

oh have we come full circle here? Bzzz…
You need to start reading this hilarious book before the title page where the cause of the argument is visible; thereafter it becomes transformed into a bird, a flying teacup, a winged horse, even a flying elephant as the squabble escalates until Gillespie steps in and points out something that is lying lifeless on the floor.
Simple but certainly not simplistic is the manner in which Jeffers has depicted the Hueys and their trouble. The course of the argument is presented in speech bubbles and shown contained within a cloud above the Hueys’ heads

DSCN2393

– very clever and a highly effective means of representation.
Assuredly one to have on the family or classroom bookshelf for those inevitable times of conflict, although once read it will quickly become an oft requested,
any time story.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN2396

Cantankerous King Colin
Phil Allcock and Steve Stone
Maverick arts publishing
When King Colin wakes up feeling cantankerous he finds himself getting into all manner of minor conflicts with his wife Queen Christine.

DSCN2423

Rosa and Nina sharing in King Colin’s cantankerous behaviour

She tries ruling against eating a ‘yucky and mucky’ breakfast, his refusal to wash his hands after using the loo, and his wearing of a shirt stinking of the previous night’s dinner.
Every time Queen Caroline said, “You can’t …”, King Colin’s response was the same: “I can,” and of course, because he was king, he could and he did. Hmm…silly, dirty, smelly King Colin. A sulky Colin decides to go for a horse ride. Imagine his displeasure then when he discovers his favourite horse, Pink Nose unsaddled.
More conflicts ensue during the ride and a furious Colin returns to the palace where, you’ve guessed it, he causes more upsets

DSCN2398

until his roars of “I can!” are overheard by somebody who has the power to overrule our grumpy, crazy, lazy naughty monarch; it’s none other than Great Queen Connie. Guess where she sends her badly behaved son.
A humorous story illustrated in cartoon style with appropriately garish colours to match Colin’s over-the-top character and told through a patterned text; children will relish Colin’s somewhat disgusting habits and enjoy joining in with the Queen’s ‘ You can’ts ’ and the oft repeated, ‘ “I can,” said King Colin … because he was king.’ They could also offer suggestions as to how the king could mend his undesirable ways and present them in poster form perhaps.
Buy from Amazon

Find and buy from your local bookshop:   http://www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch

Numbers, Counting and Dragons

DSCN2341

The Hueys in None the Number
Oliver Jeffers
Harper Collins Children’s Books
Those ovoid characters, the Hueys are back and this time they have a mathematical poser. The problem essentially is this: “Is none a number?

DSCN2342

So begins a numerical discourse wherein one is added to none and so on until the two conversing reach double figures.

DSCN2345

Spectacular, when they’re all together, remarks one of the pair and goes on to say, ”But when you take them all away … you get NONE.” No prizes for guessing what the other one says in response… (there are four words in the sentence and it’s a question.)

DSCN2346

Here we go again!

Each counting number is illustrated in Jeffers’ own wonderfully quirky style and an explanatory sentence, seemingly spoken by the Huey who has adopted the teaching role, is written beneath, above or alongside the picture as a caption, together with the corresponding number printed large. Wait a minute though, there’s more to it than that: every illustration is a small story in itself with lots to explore and discuss: take number 5 for instance where readers can help Rupert choose himself a hat,

DSCN2343
or number 8 where a party gift is the object of a guessing game.
This hilarious book is simply brimming over with potential – mathematical, story-telling, artistic and more.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN2351

Have You Seen My Dragon?
Steve Light
Walker Books
Starting from a hotel entrance, a small boy searches high and low for his lost dragon – all over the city in fact. As he moves around he ponders on the possibility of discovering said dragon in a variety of unlikely places such as on the bus,

DSCN2353

quenching his thirst up on the water towers,

DSCN2354

at the book stall,

DSCN2355

on the underground even. Having made a thorough (so he thinks) search, the dragon’s owner comes back to the place where he’d supposedly left him and lo and behold, what is that sitting up on a roof in lantern bedecked China Town?

DSCN2356

In fact what really seems to be happening is that the dragon is leading the boy on a journey of exploration around the city.
Steve Light has used a minimal text to narrate the story told mostly through his finely detailed, mainly black and white illustrations.
This fascinating book is also of course, rich with opportunities for counting, not only the particular items in the captions but also the people, cars, buildings, architectural features and much more besides.
Children will love spotting where the dragon has hidden himself on each spread and I envisage many being inspired to make maps and their own detailed drawings of particular features or indeed a whole city – real or imagined.
A group might even try using the map as a starting point and collaborating to build a three dimensional model.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN2347

Once Tashi Met a Dragon
Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg illustrated by Kim Gamble
Allen & Unwin Murdoch Books
There’s a dragon that is responsible for bringing the rains; that’s what the inhabitants of Tashi’s village all believe even though they don’t agree on where he lives; and, as his grandma tells him, that dragon is busy, “Cooking up rain, big lashing whooping roaring rains that wash away all the dirt and dullness of the year, and make the air sparkle like a million diamonds.
One year though, the dragon does not appear – there’s a terrible drought and outbreak of fires. Tashi determines to find out what has become of this ancient dragon.
Thus begins his adventure involving a white tiger, a visit to a golden palace and a story

DSCN2349

and singing session with a sad little dragon whose mother is in a deep, demon-induced sleep.
As a result, the rain-bringing dragon is awoken, Tashi is granted a wish for his troubles, the dragon opens her mouth, blows wispy dragon words and down comes the rain at last.

DSCN2350

Thereafter, the young hero is flown back to his awaiting Grandmother in his newly greened village home.
If you haven’t come across Tashi before then this book is a good introduction to the bold, fearless little fellow who is always ready to take on new challenges. His adventures are recounted with lashings of figurative language and atmospheric watercolour pictures and make for interesting story sessions.
Buy from Amazon
Find and buy from your local bookshop:http://www.booksellers.org.uk/bookshopsearch

Beasts and Baskets

Picnic
John Burningham
Jonathan Cape
There are echoes of the wonderful Mr Gumpy’s Outing in Burningham’s latest book. Boy and girl invite sheep, pig and duck to join them for a picnic. Their search for a picnic place proves protracted. They are chased by bull and have to hide in the woods, the wind whisks sheep’s hat away, pig drops his ball and duck loses his scarf. When all the items are retrieved they share the picnic basket spread and after fun and games the tired picnickers return to boy and girl’s house on the hill and bed.
Burningham’s peerless pictures in crayon, ink and watercolour and his spare, clear short sentences with engaging questions are in perfect balance within the empty spaces of each page.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN0984

Big Book of Beasts
Emily Gravett
Macmillan
Emily Gravett has a co-creator for her latest offering; it’s Little Mouse (from a Big Book of Fears). Said rodent proceeds to edit her efforts throughout, daubing, nibbling, scribbling and generally interfering with every spread. As the author attempts to present ten animals pictorially with accompanying verse, Little Mouse offers his own take on each one. So, he proceeds to silence the lion’s roar, placing mittens over its claws, swat the worrying wasps with a specially pressed newspaper, and put dainty high-heeled shoes on the feet of the rampaging rhinoceros; but can he avoid being swallowed by the crushing Boa-Constrictor? Seemingly so, for after one final confrontation, what do we find fleeing across the final end-papers but a small, white, paint-spattered mouse?
Purists may be left aghast at mouse’s defacement but the rest of us will revel in this ingenious, truly interactive creation with its mini book of origami, wasp-swatting newspaper, healthy teeth guide, flaps to open and holes throughout.
Buy from Amazon

The Cat, the Mouse and the Runaway Train
Peter Bently and Steve Cox
Hodder Children’s Books
This adventure starts when a mouse – a skitter-scattery one – living in the stationmaster’s house, steals a piece of cheese and is seen by Carruthers the cat. The mouse is trapped, escapes and is hotly pursued by Carruthers but as he crosses the track, the cat takes a tumble getting his tail stuck in the rails. The minutes tick by and a large red steam train is speeding ever closer, Carruthers promising to chase him no more, begs the mouse to stop the train. Can that tiny creature get back and warn the stationmaster before the train makes mincemeat of his much-loved moggy? Suffice it to say that by the end of the day there is a third resident in the stationmaster’s house, and now he’s entirely welcome.
This rhyming tale, like the train positively races along and one can almost hear the rhythmic sound of the wheels on the track echoing when reading the book aloud. There’s some delicious alliteration too and the tension builds as the stopwatch counts the minutes to ten o’clock when the train is due.
Full of humour and pathos, Steve Cox’s bold bright illustrations mirror the gathering pace and tension of the text. For additional fun, spot Cat and Mouse among the cogwheels, clocks and pipes of the endpapers.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN0985

The Lion and the Mouse
Nahta Noj
Templar Publishing
Cleverly interactive die-cuts really make this version of one of the most retold of Aesop’s fables distinctive.
Standing out against the flat colour backgrounds, composite, collage-style cut-outs help build up the bold images which are truly striking. Jenny Broom’s retelling too is noteworthy and further enlivened by variations in the font size, and weight with lines of print sometimes following the outlines of the illustrations.

DSCN0986

A great book for the primary classroom or for individual sharing.
Buy from Amazon

Little Evie in the Wild Wood
Jackie Morris and Catherine Hyde
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
One afternoon, wearing red and carrying a basket, Little Evie sets off alone into woods. Following the path ever deeper, her senses alert, she emerges into a clearing and there encounters a great black she wolf. Shades of Red Riding Hood; but, Evie has been sent by her Grandma to find the wolf and share with her seven blood-red jam tarts. After their meal, as the sun sets, the wolf carries Evie on her back to the edge of the wood where she can see the cottage and her waiting mama.
It’s not so much the story, but the manner of the telling that is so striking. Its lyrical, powerfully atmospheric, eerie haunting quality draws you right in from the start creating an air of wonder and mystery.
Visually wonderful too, Catherine Hyde has used acrylics to conjure soft-focus woodland scenes suffused with glowing sunlight, which intensify the air of mystery.
Truly, a book to enchant young and old alike.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN0988

The Day the Crayons Quit
Oliver Jeffers and Drew Daywalt
Harper Collins
Have you ever thought about the crayons you give children to use; did you know for example that they have feelings? No? Well, this hilarious book/story by the brilliant Jeffers (no prizes for guessing which medium he has used) and debut author, Daywalt might make you think again.
Duncan wants to do some colouring but when he goes to use his crayons, he discovers a bundle of twelve letters all of which contain strong words of admonition for the would-be artist.
Red complains that he is even has to work on holidays, Purple is upset that Duncan won’t keep his colour within the lines, Beige is fed up with playing second fiddle to Brown, Grey is demanding a break from colouring large animals, White feels empty and Black doesn’t want to be limited to outlines, Green is happy with his use but wants Duncan to settle a dispute between Yellow and Orange over which is the rightful colour of the Sun, Blue is bothered that he is almost completely used up and Pink thinks she is being discriminated against because Duncan is a boy. And finally, Peach doesn’t want to leave the crayon box because Duncan has peeled his label off leaving him naked.
Needless to say, this wonderfully wacky, creative picture book has plenty of colour particularly after Duncan takes on board all the crayons concerns. I’m not convinced that Beige will be entirely happy though.
Don’t miss this one.
Buy from Amazon

DSCN0987

Eddie and Dog
Alison Brown
Little Tiger Press
Eddie lives close to an airport; he spends time watching the planes and dreaming of adventures in faraway places. One day he spies a small dog in a basket on the luggage carousel and invites him to play. The two briefly enjoy some adventures together but on their return home, Eddie’s mum sends his new playmate to a more suitable home. Next day however, dog is back and despite further attempts to send him packing, Eddie’s determined canine pal returns. Moreover he has a plan: a clever one involving a rooftop space whereon he and Eddie construct a garden compete with lawn, topiary, a tree-house and more.
I like the fact that imagination, determination and perseverance win the day in this story for which Alison Brown’s illustrative style creates the illusion that the characters and objects have been created with a modeling medium.
Buy from Amazon