Oh Oliver, Oliver, Oliver… You write such smashing stories! (That was my ‘mummy crush’ talking.)
The Hueys are a bunch of very appealing bean-shaped characters who are set to be the stars of Jeffers’ new series of picture books. We meet the Hueys for the first time in The Hueys in The New Jumper and learn that they all “…looked the same, thought the same and did the same things…”. That is until one of them, Rupert, knitted himself a natty orange jumper and “…wore it all over the place, proud as could be.”
At first, the other Hueys were horrified. But one of them, Gillespie, “…thought being different was interesting” and knitted himself a matching jumper “…so he would be different too!”
Predictably, now that two of them are happy wearing jumpers, more and more Hueys join in –
“Before long, they were all different, and no one was the same any more.” (This sentence is a bit of a brain-bender for four-year-olds!).
Jeffers’ minimalist illustrations and restrained choice of colours (basically shades of grey, orange and lots of white space) are superb. Even though the Hueys are oval shaped with sticks for arms and legs, Jeffers manages to make them incredibly expressive – from Rupert’s sweet little happy dance when he first puts on his new jumper through to the Hueys en masse, all the same but with slightly different looks on their faces.
Special mention must be made of the use of the word ‘jumper’ – in a world filled with ‘sweaters’ and ‘pullovers’, it’s nice to have a word familiar to Australian kids the star of a book.