Wednesday, 27 February 2013

And they all look just the same.

Until a few weeks ago, this house was Oliver Jeffers free. I had heard of him and knew he was from Belfast, but had just never got round to reading one of his books. On one of our 'cup of tea' visits to No Alibis bookstore (this is where Emily drags me in off the street and plays with the tiny tea-set in the children's section), I picked up a couple of Oliver Jeffers' books. One of them even had an extra little picture drawn in it by Oliver himself. Got to love special touches like that.

I took them home, and they were a hit. It's not often the two year old AND the four year old will sit together to read a book, but these worked like magic. When we hit the library last week, it was no surprise that we came home with a couple of additions to the collection. So far we've read Stuck, The Way Back Home, The Heart in the Bottle and The Hueys in the New Jumper. Given the frequency that Huey is shoved in my hand, I'd call it as the favourite of the week. I'm even having problems trying to blog about it because every time I pick it up Emily is on my knee like a shot wanting it read to her.

So what's it about? It's a pretty black-and-white thing in the land of the Hueys.  They all think the same,do the same; they even look the same. Then one day, one of them decides he'd like to wear a jumper. The Hueys lurch from the initial shock of having someone be different, to all wanting to be different. Of course by all wanting to be different in their natty orange jumpers, they all end up being one of the crowd again. Things need to move up a notch for them all to be individuals, and they do. It's a subtle but insightful look into the world of peer pressure, herd mentality and individualism.

What works so well in this book is the way that the pictures and the story interact. There really doesn't need to be a lot of words to get the story moving along. Emily loves looking at the little guys in their new jumpers, and will chat away about who looks sad; there's really no pressure from lots of text, it works as a picture book for her. Abigail though, being that bit older, gets the 'joke' of everyone ending up still all being the same. She was curious as to why it had to be a bright orange jumper (my take was it was a bold statement) and was having a go at trying to read some of the little asides herself. I really appreciated that these little asides when the Hueys speak were handwritten. We live in a typeset world these days, where writing by hand as a grown up is falling by the wayside. It's important that we don't forget about longhand, maybe even use it now and again. Just in case.