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Friday, June 7, 2013

The HUEYS in IT WASN'T ME, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. Harper Canada, 2013. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"The thing about
the Hueys....
was that most of
the time they got

But every so often
they didn't..."

If you have met The Hueys, you will be thrilled to see that they have changed somewhat from their original look...that new jumper made all the difference and led to them trying to find a signature style! Here, on the front endpapers, you can see that while their shape is the same, they have branched out into trying for some individuality in the colors they choose to wear. They are obviously discussing an annoying black fly. Each has something to say, while one apes the fly's movements.

As we make our way into the heart of the tale, we can see that they enjoy lively discussion and are willing to share ideas and opinions. Until they don't...

Their argument is loud and troubled. No one seems to be listening to the others and the heated bubble of talk is filled with discord. Gillespie, a bystander, has an important question:

"What are you fighting for?"

If you have thought to ask the same question, you might know the results of that kind of interruption. No one can agree on who to blame. The talk goes round and round, with no solution in sight. As I have read in a recent interview with Oliver Jeffers, he thinks it sounds just like a playground altercation! There is no consensus...

Gillespie changes the focus of his question; there is a sudden silence. No one seems able to come up with a suitable answer. So, Gillespie opts for another subject. That's all it takes! Don't miss the endpapers at the back....

I told myself that the next time I wrote anything about the wonderful Oliver Jeffers, I would include a video that I love and also some tidbits of brilliance that he shares willingly with others.

So, first up is his tongue-in-cheek advice for aspiring writers:
  • you always have to have a pencil
  • you always have to keep practising
  • you have to share your ideas
  • you can never read enough books
  • you really have to have a writer’s jacket, possibly green
  • you need a window to stare pensively out of
  • if a story is not going well, add in an elephant
  • if that doesn’t work, make it a flying elephant
  • if that doesn’t work, make it a flying elephant on fire
  • if that doesn’t work, make it a flying elephant on fire with laser eyes
  • if that doesn’t work, forget the elephant
  • never, ever eat anything the size of your head in one go
  • if your mum says no, go and ask your dad.
                                               from We Love This Book (June 2013)

 Now, here's the video:

and finally, here's Oliver's view of writing for everyone, including himself:

"Since I began making picture books I have come to realise over time that I call them just that. Picture books. Not children's books. The reason for this is twofold; firstly I don't believe they are just for children. I have met countless adults that collect picture books for themselves, and they are growing in confidence about openly admitting this in a book-signing queue. It's not for my daughter, or a friend's nephew. It's for me. Often these individuals are teachers, librarians, publishing employees, art college students / aspiring picture-book makers themselves. But increasingly, they are doctors, civil servants, bus drivers … just people who have discovered the joy of a story unfolding visually over a few dozen pages.

I refrain from calling them children's books because that implies I write them specifically for children. I don't. I write them for myself. And for everyone."

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