For me, a perfect picture book is not just a magical story – it is also a work of art.
One which you can share with your child and expose them to accessible but sophisticated and inspirational culture from an early age.
And no one does this better than Oliver Jeffers. The Northern Irish author-illustrator has been continually shaking up the world of children’s literature since his debut book How To Catch A Star in 2004 and is also a celebrated fine artist, winning multiple awards while still topping the bestseller lists.
We love how his storytelling combines innovative artwork with important messages and quirky humour, as demonstrated in some of our favourite bedtime reads like The Incredible Book Eating Boy, A Little Stuck and all of The Boy books.
When we interviewed Oliver in 2017, he explained how the rise of Brexit and Trump around the time his son was born had inspired him to write his last book, Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth.
Now he is back with The Fate of Fausto, a modern-day fable about a man who believes he owns everything and his sticky end.
It has been created using traditional lithographic printing techniques and designed to appeal to both adults and children, making it a book everyone can enjoy at bedtime.
It’s vintage Oliver Jeffers – simple and complex, classic and modern, all at once.
But while Oliver’s work inspires us, what are the books and who are the authors and illustrators who have inspired him over the years? We asked him to reveal his favourites…
FAVOURITE CLASSIC CHILDREN’S BOOK: Tusk Tusk by David McKee. £6.99 (paperback), Andersen Press.
“I remember really loving it when I was a kid, especially all the elephants and the way David McKee does trees. What went unnoticed when I was younger, but is obvious when you are more mature, is the anti-discrimination message in it.”
FAVOURITE RECENT READ: Rhyme Crime by Jon Burgerman. £6.99 (paperback), Oxford University Press.
“It’s silly and good fun and Jon at his best. I’m not normally a fan of a rhyming book but this is tongue in cheek.”
FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S AUTHOR: Maurice Sendak
“I don’t think I can pick one, but it is probably Maurice Sendak. It’s so oversaid but his influence on children’s books is huge, the unique darkness of his voice. He was prepared to go to places in a complex and abstract way, and take people with him convincingly.”
FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S ILLUSTRATOR: Quentin Blake
“It goes without saying! Although there are others, and they are probably more of an influence on the way I draw.”
FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S CHARACTER: Snoopy by Charles M. Schulz
“Snoopy has always stood out and now he’s back in my life thanks to my son. He had a Snoopy hat but he couldn’t speak properly so he calls it a spooky hat!”
The Fate of Fausto by Oliver Jeffers is out now. £16.99 (hardback), HarperCollins Children’s. Find out more about Oliver’s work at oliverjeffers.com
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