Waiting on Wednesday: Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!Once Upon an Alphabet

Publisher: Philomel

Author: Oliver Jeffers

Release date: October 14, 2014

Synopsis from Goodreads:

If words make up the stories and letters make up the words, then stories are made up of letters. In this menagerie we have stories made of words, made FOR all the letters.

The most inventive and irresistible book of the year spans a mere 26 letters (don’t they all!) and 112 pages. From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.

Why I’m excited: I won’t link them all, but I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love Oliver Jeffers. I’ve read every single book of his that we have in my library system. I think his stories are absolutely charming and I love his adorable illustrations (I want that dang penguin!). His humor is one of my favorite things about his books and the description for this one says that it is “slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist.” Well, I’m a kid at heart, so I know I’ll love this one. Can’t wait to read this, so I’ll probably just my own copy instead of waiting for it to come to the library.

Children’s Book Review: The Hueys in the New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found, Up and DownThe Great Paper CaperStuckand This Moose Belongs to Me.

The Hueys in the New Sweater

The Hueys are all the same: egg-shaped little dudes that all think the same way, do the same things, and look exactly the same. Until one day when Rupert knits himself a cool little orange sweater. Gasp! Rupert is different, and he is ostracized. That is until Gillespie (can I just take a moment to say how freaking awesome the names Rupert and Gillespie are for children’s book characters??) notices and thinks that being different is interesting. So what does he do? Why, he knits himself his own cool little orange sweater! Soon everyone is doing it and Rupert must find a new way to be different.

At first it seemed that Jeffers was commenting on the fact that it is almost impossible to be different in our society – where everyone will do the same thing if it is cool and everyone else is doing it. Everyone was being different but they were all doing it in exactly the same way. But then you reach the end and you flip the last page, and all of the Hueys are there in bright, vivid colors – all different! I think this one teaches kids how to be different by thinking outside of the box. Yes, there are trends and people like to fit in and do what others are doing, but you should be like Rupert. Be yourself, set trends, think outside the box. I still think Jeffers’ is commenting on society’s need to be different by being exactly the same, but I like the other theme too!

Children’s Book Reviews: This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found, Up and DownThe Great Paper Caperand Stuck.

This Moose Belongs to Me

Wilfred has a pet that most people don’t – a moose. He hasn’t always had a pet moose though. One day the moose came to him and he knew that it was meant to be his, so he decided to keep and and call him Marcel. Marcel is usually a very good pet, but one day Marcel leads Wilfred on a journey into the woods where someone else lays claim to the moose.

One of my favorite in terms of Jeffers’ illustrations. They’re different from some of his others in that they are a little more layered, much like The Great Paper Caper or The Incredible Book-Eating Boy. Some of the illustrations are simple, with just Wilfred and his moose, but others have a detailed background of beautiful woods or water that were awesome. They were full of nature, pure and lovely.

Moose are wild animals and they will do whatever it is they want to do. I loved that Jeffers let Marcel or Rodrigo or Dominic or whatever be who he was, if that makes sense. I think this is a good one for teaching about animals and nature. I think it also shows how to adapt to new situations and learn from experience. This book is about compromise, knowing your limits, and being able to change plans and ideas when needed. Wilfred has a lot of rules for Marcel who doesn’t fit any of them really. Wilfred must adapt and change to become more open-minded. The illustrations match this juxtaposition of what Wilfred expects and what actually happens: the backgrounds are beautiful, sweeping landscapes with Wilfred and Marcel being simple and unassuming illustrations on top of those.

Children’s Book Reviews: Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found, Up and Down, and The Great Paper Caper.

Stuck

Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree, so he decides to try to get it down by throwing his shoe at it. But that gets stuck too, so he throws his other shoe. And on and on it goes until it seems everything that he could possibly throw at it is stuck in the tree as well, including his front door and a boat and an orangutan.

Another one of Jeffers’ books that is chock full of humor. You just keep wondering what else Floyd could possibly get stuck in that tree. The story is kind of absurd and surreal and strange, and those are all reasons to love this book.

I will say that the boy is quite selfish which might not be something that you want to read to your kids, though I think they’d be quite amused with the story and how he is just being a kid. It’s not logical, it’s not realistic, and it’s not what Floyd should do, but that’s the whole point! It’s fun and silly and ridiculous. A completely enjoyable read. Yet again. 🙂

Children’s Book Reviews: The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found and Up and Down.

The Great Paper Caper cover

This one might be favorite Oliver Jeffers book so far. The forest animals’ homes are disappearing. All the trees are being cut down! Oh no! What is happening? The animals meet up to try to figure out the mystery; there must be clues, right? Maybe like the bear with the ax in the background or the flyers for the paper airplane contest?

The humor in The Great Paper Caper is so genuinely funny and charming. This is definitely one of those ones that will delight not only children but adults as well – maybe even more so for adults who will understand the humor of the clues laid out in the background for the reader.

Also, I can’t even handle how ridiculously adorable the illustrations are. The stick legs! Oh my goodness. I just love them. The beaver and the bear and the pig. So freaking adorable. I think some people might easily blow off Jeffers’ illustrations as overly simple or plain, but this book is indicative of why Jeffers is just so talented: all of the little details in the background that you might not notice at first are perfect.

So this one doesn’t quite have the same emotional range as, say, Lost and Found, but it is the definition of an enjoyable book from start to finish. I definitely think kids would enjoy trying to figure out who the paper caper is as much as you will.

The Great Paper Caper

Children’s Book Review: Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons QuitThe Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. So far this week, I’ve reviewed Lost and Found.

Up and Down

Another book in “The Boy” series, same as The Way Back Home and Lost and Found. I seriously adore this little boy and that dang penguin. Oh my goodness.

The boy and the penguin do everything together. Until the penguin decides he needs to learn how to fly…alone. The boy helps his friend as much as he can by researching ways to fly and trying to find flying experts to teach his friend how to fly. But the penguin finds his own way and when he heads off to do it, he becomes lost and the boy cannot find him. The boy figures out where he is, but will he be able to save him in time?

Just like his other books, this book is written and illustrated in Jeffers’ charming simplicity. His books make me smile the entire time. They aren’t just about a sweet friendship though. They are full of adventure and fun and suspense. Just wonderful. The friendship between the boy and the penguin is so genuinely caring – they will do anything to help and support the other.

Children’s Book Review: Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers

I’ve recently become kind of obsessed (okay, super obsessed) with Oliver Jeffers’ books. I love them. They are adorable and genius and simple and wonderful. Did I mention that I love his books? Haha. I’ve already reviewed The Day the Crayons Quit and The Incredible Book-Eating Boy and The Way Back Home. Anyway, I’ve pretty much read all of his books that are currently in my library’s system, so this week, I’m going to do six mini reviews of his books. You ready?

Lost and Found

Lost and Found is in the same series as The Way Back Home which I already talked about (in case you were wondering, I loved it). One day, a penguin shows up at a boy’s door and he assumes it is lost. So he figures out where the penguin came from through research and sets out to return it home. The trip to the South Pole is long and to pass the time, he tells the penguin stories. When they reach their destination, he realizes that the penguin wasn’t lost.

Much like Jeffers’ other books, this is a sweet story of friendship. Instead of being about the words on the page, this book is much more about what isn’t said. The words are sparse but obviously chosen with care to invoke feelings of love, loyalty, kindness, and friendship. Jeffers’ is obviously quite talented: you can tell this by the fact that it is possible to see how the penguin is feeling with just his simple illustrations.

Loneliness is something that is really difficult to talk to a child about. I think this book would be a really wonderful way to start that conversation should it ever come up. It is also a beautiful story of friendship and finding it in places you might not expect.

Come back tomorrow when I’ll be reviewing Up and Down.

Book Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods coverThis was my first book for Bout of Books 11.

I’d seen this book floating around the book blogosphere a little bit, but when it came across the circulation desk at the library where I work, I was blown away by how freaking pretty it was! Don’t hate me, but I didn’t even let this one go out into the stacks before I checked it out.

This book is made up of five illustrated short stories, all of which were creepy, mysterious, and spine-chillingly awesome. I flew through the entire book in about 45 minutes. I just couldn’t put it down.

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

This is one of the creepiest, most terrifying, and absolutely gorgeous books I’ve read. It pulled me in from the introduction and didn’t let me go until I turned the last page.

Mini reviews of the five stories:

Our Neighbor’s House

Three girls are left home alone when their father goes hunting. But when he doesn’t return, things start to go bad. This story gave me the creeps, in a good way. I thought the ending was seriously cool, and I got me in the mood for the rest of the book.

A Lady’s Hands are Cold

Oh, man. This story is about a newly married couple. The new wife starts to hear voices and we get some seriously amazing illustrations that were just beautiful. The story and the illustrations went hand in hand to create one of my favorite stories in the book.

32-33ladieshands

His Face All Red

Two brothers go out into the woods to find and kill a monster that’s been attacking their town. It’s kind of hard to talk about this one too much without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that this story was great: terrifying and chilling with illustrations that kept me engaged.

My Friend Janna

Two friends pretend that one of them can speak to ghosts, but all their tricks come back to haunt them. This one was pretty darn good and haunting. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but it was probably my least favorite of the five, even though I still liked it a lot.

The Nesting Place

Wooooo. This one was my favorite out of the five. Man, this one was so scary, a perfect horror story. A girl remembers her mother telling her ghost stories about monsters with rings of teeth. When she goes to visit her brother and his new fiancé, hoooweee, things get freaking crazy and scary and frightening. Holy crap, you guys.

So if you couldn’t tell, I really liked this one. The illustrations were incredible and they matched the tone of the stories perfectly. The stories and the words worked together to create the feel of the book, and I actually felt myself get chills a few times. I would recommend this to anyone who likes comics, anyone who likes horror, anyone who likes to get a little creeped out, and anyone who just liked a good story. Check this one out for sure.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Publication info:

Through the Woods

Written and illustrated by Emily Carroll

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books; July 2014

208 pages (paperback)