Stuck

This 2011 story should really have been kept back for a while to avoid an undue bias towards Oliver Jeffers but frankly it is too good to leave out.

Floyd is a small boy whose kite gets stuck in a tree.  He throws his favourite shoe at it to get it down, but the shoe gets stuck too.  So he takes off his other shoe and throws that at his favourite shoe, and that gets stuck as well.  Then he fetches Mitch the cat, who also fails to return.  I suspect you can see where this is going…

In the end, the catalogue of things that disappear up this (truly astonishing and gravity defying) tree goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, including as it does the milkman, the family car, a long-distance lorry, a whale, the house across the street and (of course!) the kitchen sink.  The increasing size and the impossibility of the things that Floyd throws up there will delight readers of a range of ages, but there are several jokes for adults in here too.  Fairly early on, Floyd fetches a ladder “to sort this out once and for all” – then throws it up the tree.  The same fate awaits the saw that he carefully lines up, and the team of firemen (plus their engine) who offer to help.

Utterly bizarre but engagingly surreal this is a simple idea stretched to the point of madness, but it is great fun to read.  Even odd little touches such as Floyd having a favourite shoe (as opposed to a favourite pair?!) add to its charm.  The illustrations are artistic and flamboyant – a step further than the stylish but reserved quality of Lost and Found – and the text varies in size and looks as though it were scribbled with a 4B pencil.  Although this would be a struggle for a young child (especially one with dyslexia or similar) to read independently because of the handwritten style, it is a great book for sharing.

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