The Hueys in the New Sweater

Oliver Jeffers. Philomel, $10.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25767-4
First in a planned series, Jeffers’s (Stuck) small-scale fable is equal parts whimsy and skinny-tie sophistication. Low-key pencil drawings, sleek typography, and a smart layout deliver the sophistication, and the Hueys contribute the whimsy. Like the crowd-pleasing minions in the film Despicable Me, the Hueys are egg-shaped beings who speak in monosyllables (“eh?” “oh!”) and enjoy a genial if colorless existence. “The thing about the Hueys... was that they were all the same,” writes Jeffers. Then a Huey named Rupert subverts the social contract by knitting a bright orange sweater with a zigzag pattern. Appalled, the other Hueys glare at Rupert as he walks past in his sweater, whistling nonchalantly. Soon the rest of the Hueys start knitting sweaters, too: “Before long, they were all different, and no one was the same anymore.” It takes yet another daring sartorial move by Rupert to lead the Hueys to authentic individuality at last. The story is over almost as soon as it has begun, a polite salute to liberated thinking that delivers its message with a feather-light touch. Ages 3–7. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2012
Release date: 05/24/2012
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