Monday, October 15, 2012

The Hueys in The New Sweater

Booklist starred (May 15, 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 18))

Preschool-Grade 1. Jeffers (Stuck, 2011) introduces a whole species of egg-shaped, stick-limbed things called Hueys (think of them as animated personifications of Malvina Reynolds’ little boxes made of ticky-tacky), who were all identical and indistinguishable and just fine with that, thank you very much. Then, in a day that will go down in Huey history, a Huey named Rupert knits himself a lovely orange sweater. As much as he loves his new sweater and wears it everywhere he goes, not everyone is so keen on it: “Didn’t he know that the thing about Hueys was that they were all the same?” But Rupert’s pal Gillespie thinks being different is kind of neat, so he knits himself an identical orange sweater, and all of a sudden the other Hueys think these guys might be onto something. While parents might get the biggest chuckle out of the more restrained bits of humor, the big joke is by no means out of reach for little funny bones: “Before long, they were all different, and no one was the same anymore,” the text reads, floating above a scene of endless Hueys all decked out in spiffy orange sweaters. The spare but adorable artwork makes this picture book work as a quirky diversion, but it doesn’t diminish the understated, deftly delivered lesson for those moments when kids need a nudge to help be themselves, or be OK when everyone else wants to be just like them.

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