The Hueys are back, and this time they’re testy.
Jeffers opens his latest story about a cast of stick-limbed, jelly-bean–shaped, multicolored characters with the line: “The thing about the Hueys… / …was that most of the time they got along.” With this setup, the art on the next page then illustrates a time when they don’t. Jeffers eschews background detail and places the Hueys on empty white or monochromatic pages with just scribbled indications of ground and shadow as they stand about talking. The fearlessly spare setting enables the Hueys’ simple forms to stand out; speech balloons visually describe their mounting anger. (These are filled first with whimsical flying creatures and objects, then with expressive abstract scribbling to indicate anger and finally with hand-lettered script.) Finally, when a Huey named Gillespie happens upon the scene and asks, “What are you fighting for?” the conflict escalates as one after another denies blame, which gives rise to the book’s title. Gillespie, a peacemaker to his Huey core, persists and asks, “WHAT ARE you Fighting ABOUT?” This stumps his peers, and a page drained of all color captures the chagrined silence of this shift in the story. Not one to gloat or rub his cohorts’ faces in their pettiness, Gillespie quickly distracts his pals with an enticing invitation: “want to SEE a DEAD Fly?” And who wouldn’t?
Want to SEE a GOOD Book? Read this one. (Picture book. 4-7)