Posted by: Erica Gillingham | March 29, 2012

Stuck

Stuck

Oliver Jeffers, London: Harper Collins Children’s Books, hb. 978 0 00 726386 8, £10.99, 2011, 32pp.

Have you ever gotten a kite stuck in a tree? What about a favourite shoe? A sail boat? An Orangutan? Your neighbour’s house?

Well, Floyd has.

Or, at least he did, if he remembers it in the morning…

It all began when Floyd got his kite stuck in A TREE. He tried pulling and swinging but it WOULDN’T COME UNSTUCK.

As Oliver Jeffers’s website notes, Stuck is ‘a tale of trying to solve a problem by throwing things at it.’ It is also a tale that had me laughing out loud while I stood reading it in the book shop.

A story that begins with a kite, Jeffers’s picture book chronicles Floyd’s creative process as he attempts to get his toy unstuck from a very tall tree. He begins by throwing small objects–his left shoe, his right, the cat. He then gets a ladder, which he throws into the tree as well. After that, the laws of physics really start to break down as this small boy begins to throw everything from the kitchen sink (literally) to a blue whale (my personal favourite).

From a brown squiggle above Floyd’s head to indicate his anger and frustration to a whole pages turning red or pink, Jeffers’ plays with the same vantage point–the tree, Floyd, and whatever Floyd is throwing at the tree–to convey the emotions and events of the story. Thankfully, there is no moralistic ending where Floyd gets into trouble for throwing so many things–and people and animals–into this tree. Instead, the consequences are left up to the readers to decide for themselves.

Should Floyd have thrown all those things up in the tree? Should he get them all back down? What will happen in the morning?! Did he really succeed after all?

A delightful picture book, this tale will have any reader giggling along with Floyd’s antics. Because, while we might not want to admit it, what’s more fun than knowing someone’s about to do something very silly and not being able to do anything but wait and see?

Photos by Erica Gillingham.

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