Thursday, September 20, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]

The Hueys in the New Jumper, By Oliver Jeffers, 28 pages.
@ SPL: JP Jeffe
The thing about the Hueys (and there were many of them) was that they were all the same. They looked the same. They thought the same. They did the same things, and they wore the same clothes. Then, one day, Rupert Huey knitted himself a new jumper (sweater) in a unique design and colour. He wore it everywhere. The Hueys (most of them) were horrified. Rupert stood out like a sore thumb in his new jumper! Didn’t he know that the Hueys prided themselves in being all the same?
Gillespie Huey, however, thought that being different was intriguing and he knit himself a new sweater, just like Rupert’s. This way, he would be different too. When the other Hueys saw Rupert and Gillespie together, both in their new sweaters, they didn’t think that Rupert looked so strange anymore. Now they wanted to be different too. Each began to knit an outfit identical to Rupert’s. Before long, they were all different, and no one was the same anymore. Or were they? Then, one day, Rupert decided to wear a unique hat.
British author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers’ newest picture book for children is deceptive. At first glance, it’s a simple and amusing story. However, it’s also a rather sophisticated little fable which uses subtle plays on words and logic (plus illustrations of stick people which are both simple and expressive) to present a message about individuality.
** Recommended for ages four to eight.
Neville, By Norton Juster, 30 pages.
@ SPL: JP Juste
“Nobody had asked him about moving. They’d just told him. So now he had a new house where he’d never feel at home. And a new school where nobody knew him. And, of course, there were no friends. That was the worst part, no friends.”
After a long car trip, a boy and his parents have finally reached their new home. The boy’s mother sends him out into the neighbourhood to meet some children. After walking slowly for about a block, the boy takes a deep breath and begins to call out a mysterious name: “NEVILLE, NEVILLE.” Soon, he’s joined by lots of curious children who help him to call, all the while wondering who “Neville” is and where he could be. The children start to ask the boy questions: “Does Neville have brothers? Sisters? Pets?” “Is he nice?” “Does he play ball?” “Would he come to sleepovers?” “Does he like to read?”
As the boy answers their questions, the children all decide that they would like Neville very much if they could find him. For quite some time, they look for him without success. Then they resolve to meet with the boy the next morning at the same place to look again. No longer lonely, the boy returns home and greets his mother – and only then does the reader learn Neville’s true identity.
Norton Juster’s clever and reassuring story makes good usage of illustration and colour to enhance its message. As the boy meets more and more children and feels less lonely, the stark white houses of his new neighbourhood become much more colourful and friendly-looking.
** Recommended for ages four to seven.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on September 20th, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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