Friday, September 13, 2019

ReadItDaddy's Book of the Week - Week Ending 13th September 2019: "The Fate of Fausto" by Oliver Jeffers (HarperCollins Children's Books)

Our Picture Book of the Week this week hails the return of a true megastar in the world of children's publishing, a guy who really has the midas touch when it comes to producing the most amazing, original and utterly gorgeous children's picture books.

We're of course talking about Oliver Jeffers, who has come a long way since first writing and illustrating books about young boys and penguins, and in "The Fate of Fausto" Oliver is in full-on 'cleverclogs' mode with a story that is both timely and necessary at the moment, particularly if you're the sort of person who follows the complete craziness going on in the political world right now.

Fausto is the sort of person who you really wouldn't want to be stuck on a bus with. Not that he'd ever take a bus, you see Fausto is hugely successful, and believes that everything in the world belongs to him, or should bow down in deference to him.

Fausto begins to travel the world in search of new things to own or dominate.

Just like every overbearing boor of a character in a book, you're almost willing Fausto to fail - and of course things don't always go his way.

Ooooh couldn't you just slap him!
Jeffers has a gift for producing gorgeous understated artwork and pared down stories that are nonetheless completely absorbing, and as the story of Fausto unfolds, you really begin to dislike the moustached moron...

Bah! If I'd been a tree, I'd have fallen on Fausto!
But of course Fausto has a purpose as a character, to show that sometimes even though you're an overwhelmingly unpleasant bully of a man, you can't always win - and you might think you have the wisdom of the ancients, but sometimes simple logic will rule in the end.

So when Fausto gets into a boat and tries to make the sea obey him...

...well you can probably imagine what happens in the end, but we won't spoil it for you. This is a rare thing, a children's book that feels like a work of art, but also feels cleverly composed to deliver a message that (sadly) is so needed right now, as we daily see people like Fausto on the news and speaking in public.

Perhaps a small boat trip for Mr Johnson? Anyone care to arrange it?

Sum this book up in a sentence: a gorgeous little fable wrought in Jeffers' utterly sublime painterly style, with a moral that everyone will be all too familiar with right now.

"The Fate of Fausto" by Oliver Jeffers is out now, published by HarperCollins Children's Books (kindly supplied for review).