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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Don't Read the Jacket Copy: New Books — Stuck

Courtesy Philomel Books
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

This is a toughie. Stuck is, without a doubt, one of my favorite picture books of the year. I knew the moment I read it that I needed to blog about it. The difficulty comes in figuring out exactly how to review a comic tour de force like Stuck without spoiling the absolutely hilarious running gag that makes the book such a blast to read.

I’ve been a fan of Oliver Jeffers ever since his first picture book, the magically poignant Lost and Found (which was, coincidentally, the very first book I reviewed in the very first issue of Cookie). That book was easy to write about. It is a gorgeously illustrated story about a boy who helps a wayward penguin back home to the South Pole. It, too, has plenty of wonderful subtle humor, but none of it is so intrinsically tied to the plot that a summary of the book would ruin the jokes. And that is the case with Stuck. To explain why Stuck is so wonderfully funny, would be to take away the joy of discovering that absurdist, mildly subversive humor yourself.

Stuck is about a boy who needs to get his kite untangled from the branches of a tall tree. To say more than that would be too much. What happens next is so simple — and so unbelievably silly — that it’s pure genius. Like the best sketch comedy, Stuck manages to take one basic joke and keep building upon it and enhancing it for bigger and bigger laughs. It’s laugh-out-loud stuff. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Stuck releases on November 11th.

Best for: Fans of The Simpsons or perhaps even Monty Python; anyone who understands that humor can be sophisticated and silly at the same time; kite lovers. 

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