Sunday, September 23, 2012

Style-setting: The Hueys: The New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers

“The thing about the Hueys... was that they were all the same.”

In fact, the Hueys are minimalists. Egg-shaped oval bodies with stick legs and arms sprouting therefrom, the best that can be said about them is that there is no need for beauty queen competitions among them. Sartorially, there's no difference either. Basically, they are, er, naked ovals. And they like it that way.

But there's always one in every crowd, and Rupert decides that he's going to be different. He knits himself a bright orange sweater and suddenly--he's different, VERY DIFFERENT!

At first everyone is shocked, SHOCKED! He looks weird. He doesn't belong. He stands out in a crowd. Horrors!

Doesn't he know that the THING about the Hueys was that they were all the same?"

But then, Gillespie gets the urge to be different and knits himself an identical orange sweater. Hmmm. These two do have a certain something, a certain savoir faire. Maybe there's something to this being different thing.

Suddenly, all the Hueys have orange sweaters! Everyone struts about, proud that they, too, are different. Trouble is, they are all different in the same way!

Rupert realizes that he's lost his edge among a sea of orange-sweatered Hueys. What does a guy
have to do to be different among a crowd of copycats?

Then Rupert decided he liked the idea of wearing a hat.

And that changed everything...

Kids will jump in to speculate what happens next  with the copy-cat Hueys, with one surprise still in store! In a minimalist parable of human style-setting, Oliver Jeffers explores the foibles of following fashion, as his little eggheads, like 'tweeners, all dress alike to be different, in his The Hueys:The New Sweater (Philomel, 2012). Jeffers, whose spare penciled drawings added panache to his recent hit, Stuck, (see my review here)  makes use of smart, savvy text and even more minimal line drawings in this wry, sophisticated little tale.

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