The Hueys in What’s the Opposite by Oliver Jeffers (InfoSoup)
The Hueys are back with another book, this one focused on opposites. One Huey starts by asking another what the opposite of beginning is, but that stumps the other one. So they move on to easier opposites like here and there, up and down, yes and no. Each of the opposites is acted out by the characters with lots of humorous touches that make the book a delight to read and share. As always, the Hueys have exactly the right tone for a preschool crowd, this time making the concept of opposites great fun to learn.
Jeffers has a real gift for quiet humor that is shown mostly in the illustrations while the text stays focused and matter of fact. Sharing this aloud is not about just reading the text, but also exploring the illustrations together to make sure that you don’t miss the smashed cup of tea when the cat is gotten down from the tree (by sawing it down). At times the text gets in on the fun too, like when the Huey caught on a desert island is unlucky at first, then lucky and then sadly, unlucky once again.
Children will enjoy that the opposites get more complex at the end of the book. A discussion of whether a glass is half full or half empty should lead to everyone joining the Huey with his hurting head. The end of the book adds to the merriment finally answering the original question of the opposite of beginning.
A real joy to read and share, this picture book will appeal to both existing Huey fans and will also earn new ones. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Philomel Books.
Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories by Sara Varon (InfoSoup)
Enter the artistic process of graphic-novel author Sara Varon. Here you will see short comic stories, some done as exercises, essays and journal entries. Varon introduces each piece, sharing that she is always at least one of the characters in each of her stories. Each story has the charm and wit that one expects from a book by Varon, here is bite-sized pieces that allow readers to meet even more adorable animal characters. There are cats who long to fly, stories based on alphabet exercises, bee keeping information, swimming pools, and much much more. This is a world worth visiting multiple times!
Varon’s art is almost wordless, the characters showing much more than telling all that they do. Varon plays with the cells of the graphic novel, breaking the walls between them by handing cups across the lines in one story and in another showing both above and below the water at the same time. She is consistently gently funny and smart in all of these stories. There is a beautiful familiarity to her work, it is at once quirky and cozy and creates worlds where one wants to exist.
Readers will find a lot to love here, whether they are reading it as future artists and authors themselves or because they love Varon’s work. Varon shows the growth of her own work as the book progresses, and also shows how from the very start she was true to her own style and vision. The collection is empowering and fresh.
The author of Robot Dreams and Odd Duck shows a back-stage view of her work, inviting young readers into her creative process. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from copy received from First Second.