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Pre-K

Growing Reader

The Very Best of Oliver Jeffers

by Jennifer Garry

oliver-jeffers-books
Background credit: Here We Are by Oliver Jeffers

I am a thirty-something mother of two, and I’m here to tell you that Oliver Jeffers is one of my favorite authors. Yes. You read that correctly. The artist and picture book creator is at the tippy top of my list of favorites (and, honestly, I’m not that quiet about it — see here and here for proof).

When I pick up an Oliver Jeffers book, I know it will be beautiful — sometimes even iconic (hello, The Day the Crayons Quit) — and that the story itself will be so richly layered it will grab hold of you whether you’re five or 95. Sweet, thought-provoking, and funny, Jeffers’ stories are for kids, but they’re also for the adults who purchase them and read them aloud so often that the pages become worn, and the sentences become like lines from a favorite song.

If you’re new to the Jeffers-verse, buckle up! I guarantee these seven books will make you a lifelong fan.

  • Here We Are

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    Packed with layers of wonder for all ages, Here We Are is the book I wish I had as a wide-eyed, terrified new mother. Inspired by Jeffers' son’s birth, this beautiful book is a guide to living on Earth and being a good human. Filled with themes of empathy and acceptance, it touches on how different we all are and how we share one important thing in common: we’re all in this together. This message is as comforting to children as it is to their grownups.

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  • This Moose Belongs to Me

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    Wilfred has a lot of rules, and his pet moose, Marcel, usually obeys them. One day, on a long walk in the woods, Wilfred discovers that someone else thinks she owns Marcel — and Marcel doesn’t seem to think he belongs to anyone. Fortunately, the straight-laced boy and his wild and free moose come to a funny little compromise. The natural backgrounds have a painterly quality, while the characters are cartoonish, setting them at odds with each other from the start. Quirky and seemingly simple, the book becomes profound when you consider things like the illustration style and the theme: can we ever really own something wild?

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  • How to Catch a Star

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    Jeffers’ first book follows a boy who loves stars so much that he wants to catch one of his own. However, after trying repeatedly, his dream of capturing a star still seems far away. When he’s ready to give up, he finds a star in an unexpected place. Filled with hope and a bit of magic, this sweet story teaches readers that the things we’re looking for might surprise us.

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  • Stuck

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    Get ready to giggle. This one starts with a very relatable dilemma: Floyd’s kite gets stuck in a tree. Hoping to get it unstuck, Floyd throws his favorite shoes at it, and they get stuck too. From here, the story gets increasingly absurd (and hilarious) as Floyd throws everything from his cat to the milkman, an orangutan, the house across the street, and a whale at the tree. Big and little readers alike will delight in the absolute ridiculousness of this story.

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  • The Heart and the Bottle

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    If you need a cry — or if you have a young reader who has experienced loss — this book is essential for your shelf. It’s filled with both heartbreak and hope, and it looks at grief through a lens that isn’t too heavy for children. When a curious little girl’s older companion is no longer there, she puts her heart into a bottle for safekeeping. While she feels better, all of her wonder and inquisitiveness got locked away with her heart — until she grows older and meets a small girl who reignites her curiosity and helps her get her heart back.

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  • The Fate of Fausto

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    The layers! The deceptively simple illustrations! The slow, unrushed pace! Honestly, I could go on about this book for hours. It’s about a pompous bully of a man named Fausto, who thinks he owns everything. From flowers and trees to lakes and mountains, Fausto conquers it all with stomping, shouting, and entitlement — that is, until he tries to claim the sea and finds himself in a little too deep. This is another of Jeffers’ books that will become richer with meaning as readers get older.

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  • There's a Ghost In This House

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    Jeffers’ newest book is uniquely creative and will bring hours of delight to little readers who will love poring over its illustrations. Transparent vellum pages make funny ghosts appear and disappear in this interactive book about a haunted house that’s not too scary for even the most nervous readers. A brightly illustrated little girl seems to live all alone in a creepy old mansion (which Jeffers created with vintage papers from books and furniture catalogs). Her greatest wish is to see a ghost in her haunted house, but no matter how hard she looks, she can’t find them — but readers will!

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