Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

I've been a fan of Oliver Jeffers's picture books since I interned for his publisher, Philomel, in 2008. Stumbling across his books while organizing their book closet, I was instantly drawn to his unique art style. But what made me a die-hard fan were his incredibly inventive stories and his lovable (and often hilarious) characters. Jeffers's books are like Pixar movies. They are charming, visually stunning, and although I know I'll love them before I even start reading, I am still surprised by how great they are when they're done. And Stuck is no exception.
When Floyd gets his kite stuck in a tree, he knows the only way to get it down is to knock it out. However, when the shoe Floyd throws to dislodge the kite also gets stuck, he starts down a slippery slope that has him chucking everything from his mailman to a blue whale at the tree. Without giving too much away, I'll say that, despite the seemingly repetitive nature of the book, Jeffers manages to keep the story engaging with ever-increasing stakes (unlike the shoe, the mailman can't stay stuck in the tree because he needs to get on with work), several near triumphs (what if he tried using a ladder?), and one statisfyingly hilarious ending.
I was fortunate enough to see Jeffers do a reading of his "tale of trying to solve a problem by throwing things at it" at Bank Street Books last week.  When someone in the audience asked him how long it took him to come up with a book, he said that he came up with Stuck (as well as The Incredible Book Eating Boy--another favorite of mine) in a day. That might have to do with the fact that, as he admitted, Stuck is actually based on the time his own kite got caught in a tree and he had to throw things to get it lose (only without that part about the whale). But now all I wonder is if he's ever tried eating a book.

No comments:

Post a Comment