Tag Archives: Oliver Jeffers

Why we read

2 Oct

In 2013, Neil Gaiman delivered a speech entitled “Why Our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming” to The Reading Agency in London. You can watch the speech on Youtube,  listen watch and read the text on The Reading Agency’s website, or simply hold the text in your hands and read it, along with many other essays, in Gaiman’s recent collection of essays, The View From the Cheap Seats. 


I highly recommend that you make the effort to see what Gaiman has t say on this topic. You will nod your head in agreement because, if you read this blog, you are a reader.

Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston clearly believe in the same power of books and reading. His new picture boo, A Child of Books,  says the same thing as Gaiman, though in simpler language.


Publisher’s Summary: New York Times best-selling author-illustrator Oliver Jeffers and fine artist Sam Winston deliver a lyrical picture book inspiring readers of all ages to create, to question, to explore, and to imagine.

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.



Where will your reading take you today?

Ideas for young writers

27 Oct

I have always loved playing around with words. Jokes, puzzles. rifles, word games are all right up my alley. I was the fastest word searcher in grade 6. My earliest word memory is around age 3 or 4. My Papa used to call people “jackass” all the time so I started to do so, too. My mom finally pulled me inside and told me I had to stop.. I vaguely remember asking her why I couldn’t use it if Papa used it. I recall that she said it wasn’t a really bad word, but it wasn’t a nice word. Funny the lessons you remember from childhood.

If, like me you enjoy playing with language, check this out:


Written by Michael Escoffier and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, Take Away the A is a playful romp through the alphabet.On each page we encounter a word, which becomes a different woe when a letter is removed.

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I can imagine classrooms where kids are reading and discover more words where this can happen, then making their own version.

Oliver Jeffers is in the wordplay game right now, too.


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

And so begins a book of 26 short stories, each built around a letter. The book is 112 pages a long and a little dark in places, but still delightful.

Budding writers might be interested in  Any Questions? by Marie Louise Gay.


Many children want to know where stories come from and how a book is made. Marie-Louise Gay’s new picture book provides them with some delightfully inspiring answers in a fictional encounter between an author and some very curious children, who collaborate on writing and illustrating a story.


Strange boys on journeys and the Oliver Jeffers connection

21 Jan

Yesterday, I lazed on the couch and read The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas  by David Almond.


You should read it too.

It is the story of Stanley Potts,  a boy who leaves home and joins the circus after his uncle commits an act of treachery. He meets eccentric carnival characters , including Pancho Pirelli, the man who swims in a tank full of perilous piranhas. Stanley has an affinity for fish. When Pirelli learns this, he offers to teach Stanley to swim with the piranhas and become a professional performer. Stanley  must decide whether to pursue this option or return to his aunt and uncle. The book is marvelously illustrated by Oliver Jeffers.

As I read the book a niggle was niggling my brain. This all  felt a bit familiar. And then I realized why.


Jeffers also illustrated The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket by John Boyne. This is also a tale of a boy who leaves home on a journey. I wrote about this book on May 18th.Barnaby is a boy who floats and decides he needs to leave home to become the person he was meant to be. I had considered this for my teacher book club last year.

One thing I particularly liked about The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas  was that the US publisher didn’t Americanize the story. This might be a turn off for a small number of readers, but I think most will love the British humor. The book will appeal to readers who like humor,  satire and books in which the bad guys get theirs in the end and each character receives their own kind of redemption. This would be a fun read aloud in a 3-5th classroom.

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