Oliver Jeffers is an artist, designer, illustrator and writer from Northern Ireland. His work, which ranges from figurative painting and installation to illustration and picture-book writing, has been exhibited in New York, Dublin, London, Sydney, Washington DC and Belfast. He is also widely known for his picture books for children. His first book How to Catch a Star debuted in 2004 to critical acclaim and became instantly popular with children and parents alike.
Lost and Found, which was published in 2005 won the Nestles Smarties Book Prize Gold Medal 2006, the Blue Peter Book Award 2006 and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal the same year. He has since been shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal three more times, for The Way Back Home, The Great Paper Caper and The Heart and the Bottle. He also the Roald Dahl Funny Prize twice in 2009 and 2012, for his books The Great Paper Caper and Stuck.
Debra will be sharing more about this talented author with us today. She is working mum to two sweet boys Sean (3 years) and Ryan (9 months). On her blog, http://olimomok.livejournal.com/, she writes mostly about fun family experiences, the kids' growing up moments and her own parenting journey. She enjoys reading, writing, making things and spending time with her kids and often wishes there were more hours in the day to do everything.
Oliver Jeffers is relatively new to the world of book illustration and... to us! We only discovered his books very recently on the recommendation of friends. 'They are wonderful books for boys - your son will love them,' they said. And they were spot-on! Sean lapped up every last one of his beautiful picture books and we too fell in love with the rich, child-like illustrations, subtle humour and uplifting stories about courage, friendship and hope.
Jeffers is best known for his debut trio of Once there was a boy books: How to Catch a Star, Lost and Found and The Way Back Home. They chronicle the heartwarming adventures of a nameless young boy with some rather unusual companions. They are firm favourites in our household.
How to Catch a Star was inspired by a Brer Rabbit story Jeffers read as a child. It has our little hero set out on an ambitious quest to catch himself a star to play with and talk to. It doesn’t quite go as planned but the story ends with a unexpected twist that will no doubt make you smile.
The Way Back Home sees the boy jet off into outer space before he encounters engine trouble and finds himself stranded on the moon. He meets an alien who is in the same predicament as he is and they worked hand-in-hand to get themselves off the moon. Great story about working together to overcome differences.
Lost and Found has our plucky young hero befriend a lonely, mute penguin who shows up on his doorstep one day. Thinking the penguin may lost, he rows all the way to the South Pole braving hell and high waters (quite literally) to get his little friend home only to realise that home is, in fact, where the heart is.
Stuck is a silly story about a boy who got his kite stuck in a tree one day and tries to dislodge it by hurling all sorts of preposterous things up the tree. The absurdity of some of the items (like the ladder and tiny saw) escapes Sean at his young age but it is still one of our top laugh-out-loud funny books to read at bedtime. Oh, and there is a lovely video of Oliver Jeffers himself reading this book with an animated version of the illustrations playing in the background. You can view it here.
Up and Down is a touching sequel to Lost and Found. The boy and penguin get along famously and become the best of friends. One day, the penguin sets off on a personal quest to learn how to fly. Very sweet story about helping a friend out and reaching for your dreams no matter how crazy they may seem. This book also makes us want to learn how to play backgammon!
The Heart and the Bottle is about a girl who loses someone dear and seals her heart in a bottle just so she didn't have to hurt anymore. Beautiful story which struck a deep chord in me because of the delicate way it is able to convey the feelings of loss and bereavement. Probably more suited for older children. Oliver Jeffers books has piqued my inquisitive three-year-old's interest about many things about our world. We have had many interesting conversations about outer space, aliens, penguins, who lives in the South Pole, why animals can’t talk, why stars only appear at night and which birds can/cannot fly :) You can find out more about Oliver Jeffers on his website. Happy reading!