You might recognize Oliver Jeffers’s name from my recommendation of his book Stuck a few months ago. When Penguin Random House asked me if I’d like to share his newest book, The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable, I jumped at the opportunity, because Jeffers writes and illustrates amazing books. And The Fate of Fausto, while targeting a different age range (in my opinion) than Stuck and many of Jeffers’s other books, didn’t disappoint!
The Fate of Fausto tells the story of Fausto, a man who believes he owns and is entitled to everything in the natural world and sets out on a journey to claim it all as his. Fausto’s conquests are successful at first. He easily convinces the flower, the sheep, the tree, and more that they belong to him, and each acquiesces. When the mountain resists, Fausto reacts like we may expect a toddler to react, stamping his foot, making a fist, and fighting. It takes the sea, however, to teach Fausto his lesson. It is the sea that teaches us that throwing a fit may not actually get us what we want, and that when things don’t go the way we want them to, the rest of the world goes on. Jeffers closes the story with an anecdote about the importance of knowing when what you already have is enough, ending the book with a direct hit in case (somehow) you miss the message through the story of Fausto himself.
Jeffers’s art is as direct and bold as his words. Jeffers illustrated this book using traditional lithographic prints, a complex and very old art form that uses oil and water to create prints (this is actually Jeffers’s first time to use lithography as an illustration medium). He makes impactful use of a simple color palette (browns, pinks, yellows, blues, and lots of white) to ensure that the audience focuses on what is important — the intensely negative effects of selfishness and greed. Be sure to check out both of the end pages, as well as the hard cover underneath the dust jacket. It’s all stunning!
The publishers target this book to ages 4-8, but I’d skew toward the higher end of that age range. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that it’s 92 pages, though, as the text moves quickly on each page. The Fate of Fausto would be a wonderful conversation starter with older children and adults, too, and serves as a terrific reminder of the importance of altruism, temperance, and generosity throughout our lives.
The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable releases today, September 17, 2019! You can order it through Penguin Random House by using this link. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts and experiences with it, but the links provided are not affiliate or sponsored links.
Beyond the Book Art Activity
Inspired by trying to understand what made lithographic illustration so unusual, we had a great time taking this beyond the book and doing our own print-making! At first, I tried to find an at-home, kid-friendly lithography hack, but alas… Lithography is way too complicated for kids to do at home, even as a hack. So, we played around with some standard print-making, and it was a HUGE hit! I simply cut shapes out of foam sheets and used a hot glue gun to stick them onto pieces of cardboard. We used our Ikea paint bottles (which I’ve refilled a few times with other paint, because we love the bottles so much!) to drip paint on the foam, spread the paint with paintbrushes, and then rolled a brayer roller over the paper to create prints. My almost-four-year-old made no less than 17 prints over the course of 3 days and would still be going strong right now if I hadn’t cleaned up the materials! Check out the video of her creating a print of a boat and two fish (the closest I could come to Jeffers’s artistic creations!).
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