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PICTURE BOOK CAROUSEL: Vive la Différence!

Posted on Sep 14, 2012

Two picture books on individuality, diversity, and acceptance, yet two very different stories. Which one will be your favourite?

Bugs in a Blanket
Beatrice Alemagna“Au pays des petits poux”, translated by Anthea Bell
(Phaidon Press)

In an old blanket live a whole colony of bugs. But each little bug lives in its own little hole, alone, with little opportunity to meet its fellow bugs. But it little fat bug’s birthday and he invites all the other bugs to a party. But when they finally all come face to face, they are all in for a big surprise: they all look very different, and they don’t like it one bit! Will they learn to be more accepting?
The moral of Bugs in a Blanket is simple: we can’t help the way we look, we are all born different. The prejudice expressed by the bugs towards each other is plainly shown as a direct consequence of their ignorance, their lack of knowledge about other bugs. This is a concept that even fairly young audiences will be able to grasp, and is a wonderful first introduction to themes of tolerance and diversity for young readers. The story is simple, repetitive and funny, making it all the more attractive for young readers
Visually, Bugs in a Blanket is stunning. Alemagna used a selection of wool, felt, fabric, stitching, created her characters and scenes, and then photographed them, creating a fantastic effect. It is not a touch and feel books, but one can nearly feel the texture when touching the page, the scratchiness of the old blanket.
There are two other books in the series, Bugs in the Garden and The Bug Next Door.

Source: home copy

The Hueys in: The New Jumper
Oliver Jeffers

(HarperCollins Children’s Books)

The Hueys are all the same. They look the same, do the same things, say the same things. They like it that way. Well, until Rupert decides to do something a bit different, and wears a jumper. The other Hueys are not impressed and there is much gossipping and much finger-pointing before they start warming up to the idea of jumpers and of being “different”. But of course, once all the Hueys are wearing a jumper, nobody is looking very different anymore …but Rupert is not quite done yet.
Oliver Jeffers moves away from his usual rich style and goes for a minimalistic approach in this philosophical tale about the need for individuality, and the importance of identity. The use of colour within the artwork is crucial in the tale. The Hueys are identical black and white egg-shaped creatures and much of their world is the same – the burst of colour from the new jumper represents a break from the norm. So though the themes of individuality might be difficult to grasp for young audiences, Jeffers manages to convey the same message, on a simpler level, through the illustrations. This is the beauty of his work of course, all of of his work. It is always thought-provoking yet cheeky and fun, delighting adults and children alike. Whether you are a trend-setter or a follower, whether you crave to be different or like to merge in the crowd, there is much to enjoy in The Hueys in: The New Jumper.  

Source: review copy from publisher

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