Ode to Oliver Jeffers

How to draw a penguin.

How to draw a penguin.

Oliver Jeffers is my favourite illustrator and children’s writer. I love his use of shadow, shapes and, more than anything, I love his humour.

The Heart And The Bottle

The Heart And The Bottle

I discovered his book The Heart and The Bottle whilst visiting the Tate Modern (and trying not to buy everything in the gift shop). I stood amongst the bustling tourists and read it cover to cover. And I cried.

Once there was a girl who was full of wonderment at how the world worked. She shared all her dreams and excitement with her father, who always had the answer to every question. That is until one day when his chair was empty, not to be filled again – how would she find the meaning of life now? 

My father had died the previous year, and reading this beautifully simple story of how a little girl came to feel love and joy again after loss was the kind of gentle therapy I hadn’t expected to find when I picked up a brightly coloured children’s book. And that softly optimistic storytelling is what makes his books so wonderful.

I now have the picture above hanging in my study. I even have the necklace by Digby & Iona that I wear like a good luck charm.  I’m quite the fangirl.

When I first saw his picture I was a bit confused to find out he’s young and handsome. It proves I imagine most illustrators to be old and pale with gnarled hands from staying indoors, bent over notebooks turning their heads inside out.

This month he is speaking at The SouthBank Centre in An Evening With Oliver Jeffers (sadly now sold out), and exhibiting his more adult works in Nothing To See Here at the Lazarides Gallery near Tottenham Court Road. The exhibition will run from the 13th of September – 3rd of October. Maybe I’ll see you there!

oliverjeffers-gillespie