Review: Stuck by Oliver Jeffers


Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Floyd’s kite gets stuck in tree and what is a boy to do?  Well, he tries to pull on the string and swing on it, but the kite stays stuck.  So he throws one of his shoes up to try and dislodge it.  His shoe got stuck too.  The other shoe didn’t work either.  Now what could he do?  Well, the cat was lingering nearby…  And so begins the wild and very funny story of a boy, a stuck kite, and a tree with an amazing propensity for keeping things stuck.  The story goes wild with what Floyd has thrown into it, never letting up on the joke.  In fact, at the end of the story, which I want you to experience for yourself, the humor is still just as strong as in the beginning and the joke stays true.

Jeffers is one of the kings of picture books.  His books love to stretch reality to almost breaking, creating new worlds that readers long to get lost in.  Here he takes getting a kite stuck in a tree to the extreme, resulting in a very funny book that will have young readers giggling along.  The book will also get readers thinking about what they would throw into a tree, so it becomes a great conversation and creativity piece.

Jeffers art is whimsical, funny, and adds a zany edge to the book.  He plays with colors throughout, with the character, objects and tree all changing colors as well as the background.  It makes for a dynamic read.

This would make a great final book for a storytime, because children will tune back in for the silliness.  I can also easily see it as a flannel board story or a jumping-off point for a creative project.  This is great fun combined with effortless storytelling and dynamic art.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.

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Review: Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach


Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Based on a true story, this picture book follows Jessie, a subway car, from her “birth” until her unusual ending.  Jessie was a New York City subway car that carried people and things around the city.  At first, she was new and shiny, but eventually she was covered in graffiti and then painted red.  She kept on working, running on tracks around the city.  Then she was used only in the winter because her fans could not keep up with the heat, and finally she wasn’t used any more.  But Jessie’s travels and adventures were far from over!  Whatever will happen to her when she is shipped by barge and taken far from land!

Sarcone-Roach has created a picture book that seems to be quiet and then takes a turn into the unexpected.  She begins with a true story and then personalizes it through the eyes of one specific subway car.  It works really well as a technique to make the subject very child friendly and to invite readers in to experience the story.  The writing is clear and Jessie’s perspective is strong and active. 

Her art is also very successful.  The colors are deep and jewel-like, showing the beauty of the city as well as the subway lines.  She plays with perspective throughout, stacking the subway lines like shelves, showing both the outside and inside of the subway cars, and always showing Jessie with her smiling headlights and chains. 

This is a lovely book that works well on many levels.  Use it for an unexpected take on recycling, add to your transportation stories, or just share it to see the children guessing where Jessie is headed on that barge.  They are sure to be entranced by the answer.  I certainly was!  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from copy received from Alfred A. Knopf.

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