I’ll declare from the outset that I am a very big Oliver Jeffers fan. His stories (and illustrations) are a rare combination of humour and sentimentality and his beautiful characters will stay in your mind long after you have shut the book.
So it was with great anticipation that I opened Jeffers’ latest book, Stuck. Stuck is the story of a little boy, Floyd, who gets his kite stuck up in a tree. He throws up his shoe to shift it but that gets stuck too. So he throws up his other shoe and that gets stuck, along with a ladder, a pot of paint, the kitchen sink, an orangutan and a whale (who was in the wrong place at the wrong time). And that’s just the start of things!
“He threw up his other shoe to knock down his FAVOURITE shoe… and, unbelievably, that got stuck as well.”
And then “Floyd fetched a ladder, He was going to sort this out once and for all… And up he threw it. I’m sure you can guess what happened.”
Jeffers’ illustrations are superb and I like the fact that each page uses a different format – coloured pages mixed with those dominated by white space and full page drawings combined with double-page spreads of action sequences – a clever technique that gives the story pace.
Floyd himself is a likeable, expressive little guy. We see him determined (tongue poking out as he launches the ladder at the tree), dejected as more and more stuff lodges in the tree, cross (a black scribbly cloud above his head and his eyebrows shown as one angry black line) and happy.
I laughed out loud when I first read this book to my kids. They liked Floyd’s ‘snowball effect’ dilemma and took guesses at what he might throw at the tree next. Jeffers is clearly on the same wavelength as kids because their guesses were as harebrained as what’s in the story – the family car, a rhinoceros, a small boat, a big boat, a lighthouse and so on.
I won’t give away the ending short of saying that in true Jeffers style it is quirky, funny and wholly satisfying (or you can find out what happens by watching the video clip below).