Jeffers, Oliver 1977-
Jeffers, Oliver 1977-
Born 1977, in Port Hedland, Western Australia, Australia.
Education: University of Ulster, degree (first-class honours), 2000.
Artist, illustrator, and children's book author. Exhibitions:Solo and group exhibits staged in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and New York, NY, beginning 2003; works featured in Royal Ulster Academy 125th Annual Exhibition, 2006.
Irish News Amateur Art Competition runner-up, 1995; CBI/Bisto Book Merit Award, 2004-05, and Booktrusted Early Years Award nomination, both for How to Catch a Star; Nestlé Children's Book Prize, and Kate Greenaway Award nomination, both 2005, CBI/Bisto Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2005-06, and Blue Peter Book of the Year designation, 2006, all for Lost and Found.
How to Catch a Star, Philomel (New York, NY), 2004.
Lost and Found, HarperCollins UK (London, England), 2005, Philomel (New York, NY), 2006.
The Incredible Book-eating Boy, HarperCollins UK (London, England), 2006.
British artist Oliver Jeffers became a children's book writer as part of his university program in visual communication, wherein he was given the opportunity to combine his skills in both writing and art. Jeffers wrote several simple manuscripts during the degree program, and following graduation he was quickly signed by HarperCollins UK. Acting as his own secretary, accountant, public-relations manager, and agent, Jeffers was the first author signed by the London-based publisher who was not represented by an external agent.
How to Catch a Star, Jeffers' first self-illustrated work, is the tale of a young boy who wants to have a star of his very own. Venturing out under the starry night sky, the child devises a number of plans to catch his own star, but after each one fails in turn, he is left wandering the moonlit beach. On the sand the boy finds a starfish that has washed up on shore, and he takes it home, delighted that he has his star at last. Rachel G. Payne, writing in School Library Journal, complimented Jeffers' illustrations, noting that they "resonat[e] well with the tone of the story." In Booklist Ilene Cooper found the author's art to "have a haunting quality and much child appeal." As Jeffers explained to readers on the HarperCollins UK Web site, How to Catch a Star "was inspired by a moment sitting on the end of a jetty in Sydney, looking at the stars."
Jeffers' second picture book, Lost and Found, begins with a young boy who finds a penguin on his doorstep. Determined to help the bird get home, the lad learns that penguins live at the South Pole. He gets his stout new friend into a rowboat, and then makes the journey south. Reaching the chilly pole, the boy is about to leave the penguin behind, but then realizes that perhaps the bird was not lost after all. Worried that the creature has been lonely at the pole, the boy rows back, returning to bring his new friend home. Jeffers' "gentle story of friendship will capture young readers' imaginations," wrote Genevieve Gallagher in a review of Lost and Found for School Library Journal, while a Publishers Weekly critic suggested that youngsters "will likely request an immediate rereading." Booklist reviewer Carolyn Phelan commented favorably on Jeffers' "succinct narrative" and "expressive illustrations," while Kitty
Flynn noted in Kliatt that the book's "simply told story" pairs nicely with the author/illustrator's "engaging and emotionally charged watercolor illustrations."
Apart from creating children's picture books, Jeffers combines art and writing in other facets of his creative career; many of his fine-art paintings feature captions and quotations as part of their design. "A large part of my work involves the relationship between words and pictures," the artist explained to Adrienne McGill for Belfast's News Letter. His exhibitions and his picture books both focus on highlighting that relationship. "My artwork tells stories," Jeffers continued. "With inquisitiveness and playfulness, colour and the relationship between words and pictures become the tools of my narration." As he more simply commented to a reporter for the London Sunday Times: "My paintings have always been about telling stories."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, August, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of How to Catch a Star, p. 1942; December 15, 2005, Carolyn Phelan, review of Lost and Found, p. 50.
Horn Book, March-April, 2006, Kitty Flynn, review of Lost and Found, p. 173, "Nestlé Children's Book Prize," p. 237.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2005, review of Lost and Found, p. 1276.
Magpies, March, 2006, Jo Coward, review of Lost and Found, p. 26.
News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), May 3, 2003, Ian Hill, "One Place, Two Different Perspectives," p. 17; June 3, 2003, Adrienne McGill, "Belfast-based Artist Creates a Stroke of Genius for Ulster Building Society," p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, July 19, 2004, review of How to Catch a Star, p. 159; January 2, 2006, review of Lost and Found, p. 61.
School Librarian, winter, 2004, Joyce Banks, review of How to Catch a Star, p. 202.
School Library Journal, September, 2004, Rachel G. Payne, review of How to Catch a Star, p. 169; January, 2006, Genevieve Gallagher, review of Lost and Found, p. 103.
Sunday Times (London, England), November 20, 2006, "Tales and the Unexpected," p. 9.
HarperCollins UK Web site,http://www.harpercollinschildrensbooks.co.uk/ (November 26, 2006), "Oliver Jeffers."
Love Reading Web site,http://www.lovereading4kids.co.uk/ (November 26, 2006), "Oliver Jeffers."
Oliver Jeffers Home Page,http://www.oliverjeffers.com (December 1, 2006).