Up and Down by Oliver Jeffers

Up and DownThis is the fourth book by Oliver Jeffers about the boy and his penguin. In the first book, Lost and Found, the penguin shows up at the boy’s house and the boy goes to great lengths to help him find his home, only to realize at the end that the place the penguin really belongs is with the boy.

With simple detail, Jeffers is able to create some of the most expressive and adorable illustrations. I am particularly fond of the full page spread in Up and Down that shows the boy and the penguin enjoying “everything” together including: playing telephone, making music with a Tuba-Guitar duet, and enjoying their favorite game together which is backgammon. Somehow, Jeffers creates a hysterical look of intense concentration on both the boy’s and the penguin’s face even though neither has a mouth as they play backgammon. Although obviously happy together, there is one thing that penguin longs to do and that is to fly, because he does “own wings after all.”

At first, the boy tries to help the penguin fly using hilarious techniques like ever increasing sized balloons tied around the penguin’s waist. Eventually, the penguin decides that flying is something he must do on his own. The boy and the penguin head to the zoo so the penguin can learn to fly from the other flying animals. While at the zoo, the penguin finds a poster advertising the perfect flying opportunity. The poster states: “Ever Dreamed of Flying? Are you short [and] fat? The Traveling Show is looking for a new Living Canon Ball.” The penguin is so excited he leaves to find the Circus without telling the boy and the boy doesn’t know where he has gone. The remainder of the story follows the boy as he looks for the penguin and the penguin embarks on becoming the newest “Living Canon Ball” in the Circus. In the end, the boy rushes in just in time to catch the penguin as he is shot out a canon with a pillow and the two friends are reunited.

Besides the delightful watercolor illustrations, the language in this book makes it one to be read multiple times. Jeffers is from Northern Ireland and the text has a delightful lilt. True to the title, this story takes on a rollercoaster effect, with many up’s and down’s. It ends delightfully with the boy and his penguin safely together again.

Posted by: Kelly


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