Wednesday, 5 June 2013

review: Stuck

by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, September 1 2011
contemporary picture book

Floyd has gotten his kite stuck in a tree. The logical method: throwing other things into the tree to dislodge it, of course. But no matter what he throws (a whale? a house? a firefighter? sure, why not), everything seems to get stuck...
The cover:

Perfect. The title font is large, clean and (I think) handwritten, just like all the text inside, and its placement in the tree matches the word's meaning and the story told, while also giving away nothing at the same time. The olive background goes with the entire book's colour scheme as well.

The book:

There is something unutterably elegant about a picture book like this. Full-page but sparse illustrations highlight the movement of our very active protagonist with either no or half-completed backdrops, and simple shapes (e.g. Floyd's oval head, rectangular body) characterize every object drawn. In fact, the artistic style is—presumably deliberately—very rough; sketch-like lines are used instead of clear outlines. The lack of backdrops also allows Floyd's character to almost literally move across the page, from left to right, as if in a comic book with invisible panels.

The story is repetitive but nevertheless adorably quirky, with a mix of dialogue and character cameos keeping things fresh. The scale of the objects being thrown by Floyd grows and grows with matching (hilarious) illustrations. And at the point where it seems that he's finally realized some common sense, instead one more thing gets stuck... but at least he gets his kite back.

Ethnic balance: N/A. As a picture book, this only has two characters (four if you count the firefighters), and all are white. Small sample size.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5