Review: The Hueys in The New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers

hueys in the new sweater

The Hueys in The New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers

All of the Hueys are the same.  They are all white ovals with skinny, stick legs and arms.  They even acted and thought the same, until one day when Rupert knitted himself a sweater.  It was a bright orange sweater with zig-zags and it made him stand out from all of the other Hueys.  Rupert was very proud of his sweater, but the other Hueys often reacted in shock and horror at it.  Rupert went to talk with Gillespie, who was also intrigued by being different.  Gillespie knitted himself a sweater just like Rupert’s and that way they could both be different together!  Slowly, the other Hueys started to accept that Rupert and Gillespie were different.  In fact, they embraced it, and everyone knitted themselves orange sweaters just like Rupert’s.  Now everyone was the same again, until Rupert decided to try a hat!

There is something completely winning about these little creatures that Jeffers has created.  So much of this book depends on the images, the style, and the feel.  Jeffers manages to create a community that is completely homogenous but not cult-like or frightening.  Instead it’s a community that has tea, hangs pictures, and seems very friendly.  Even their reaction to Rupert’s sweater is never angry, more one of disbelief, shock and even some tears. 

The writing is light and merry, keeping the entire book positive.  Jeffers has cleverly created a book that speaks to creativity and being your own person, not being afraid of leaving the crowd, but also one about what happens when your idea is taken over by the crowd.  The answer?  Do something else!

A great pick for a bedtime read, the book is a smaller format than many picture books and will not work well with a large crowd.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.

Review: Captain Awesome to the Rescue by Stan Kirby

captain awesome to the rescue

Captain Awesome to the Rescue by Stan Kirby, illustrated by George O’Connor

Eugene’s family has just moved to Sunnyview and he has to start a new school.  Happily, Eugene is very courageous.  He has to be in order to transform into Captain Awesome.  Now if he can just find his cape, before he’s attacked by Queen Stinkypants, also known as his little sister!  When Eugene starts school, his teacher gives him the responsibility of caring for the class hamster, Turbo.  Eugene does a very careful job, until one day he discovers Turbo has been hamsternapped.   It may just take Captain Awesome to reveal what really happened to Turbo and save him from some villainous plot.

This beginning chapter book has the mass appeal of superheroes.  It also has a cheery tone and a light touch.  The humor has the right tone for this age group, and doesn’t push it over the top.  This is a book that parents and children can share together, something you want with first chapter books.  As with all early reading books, the story is simple and the characters are not complex.  Still, there is adventure, plenty of villains, and the making of friends to carry the book well.

While this makes a good choice for reluctant readers, it is also good for children who are reading early as well.  There is no content here to disturb parents of preschoolers who may be reading naturally on their own.

This is a great pick for children who will soon enjoy Captain Underpants but are not quite ready as readers.  Appropriate for ages 5-7, or younger if they are starting to read on their own.

Reviewed from library copy.