When my child was an energetic toddler, not in the least interested in any reads I offered, books by Oliver Jeffers would stop him in his tracks and make him actually sit down, listen and engage. The emotional story of “Lost and Found”, for example, has moved my 3-year old to his first tears of empathy, followed by serious rejoicing at the story’s happy end. Oliver Jeffers was one of the three authors whose books my wriggly toddler would always be eager to read and re-read (click here and here to find out who the other two were).
From his web-site’s bio you’d learn that “Oliver Jeffers makes art and tells stories—fine art for (mostly) adults, and picture books for (mostly) children”.  He also works with collage, performance and sculpture. His award-winning picture books have been translated into almost fifty languages and sold over 12 million copies worldwide. His original artwork is being exhibited in various museums and galleries around the world. He has been the recipient of prestigious New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award, a number of Kate Greenaway Awards and Bologna Ragazzi Award, amongst others.
“Once upon an Alphabet” is Oliver Jeffers’ collection of 26 short stories, one for each letter. His signature style illustrations tell it as much as the text does. Packed with humour the witty stories will educate, entertain, puzzle, reveal, caution or make you reflect, question and laugh – each story a delight in its own right.
“Made of Matter” reveals that “Mary is made of matter. So is her mother. And her mother’s mouse”. “Onward” introduces an owl who rides on the back of an octopus; they are out in the ocean. “They search for problems. They solve them. They move on.” Stories are independent of each other but the problem-solving duo makes an appearance and saves the day in a few other predicaments beyond the ones unfolding in “Onwards”. One of my many favourites is “Victor the Vanquished”. Defeated and hiding under the stairs Victor is plotting his vengeance – “One day they’ll all be very sorry” – most probably the sentiment no childhood has gone without. Inspiring reflection “Burning the Bridge” satirizes the nonsense of fighting for reasons no one could remember and cautions against the destructive consequences of poorly thought through decisions.
For other alphabet books reviews click on this link.