Thursday, 3 April 2014

Oliver, by Brigitta Sif

I can see why people have kids now. It's so they can buy them incredible picture books of joy like this. Oliver is simply a beautiful story about growing up different and the wonder of eventual connection.

Oliver doesn't like to spend time with other children, preferring to play with his puppets and stuffed animals that he carts around in a little red waggon. Nobody really bothers him about it. He is the subject of many curious glances from family, friends and other children, but lost in his fantasy world of adventure and imagination, Oliver doesn't really notice. He doesn't speak throughout the book, but neither does anybody else. Oliver is truly in another place entirely.

Beautifully illustrated in rich Earthy browns, purples and greens, the world that Oliver occupies physically is tonally very intricate and beautifully realised, but it lacks colour and wonder. It is creative in its execution, in that it deliberately points out the drudgery or real life. The reader can only imagine, from the outside looking in, what Oliver sees through his own eyes. Obviously this is not a criticism of the artwork- the illustration is stunning, I think it's a really clever way of demonstrating how detached Oliver is.

I was so happy for him by the end. There is nothing more amazing than discovering you are not the only odd person around.

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