I love Oliver Jeffers as an author. I was excited to read this new picture book. But man, this is DARK!
Fausto is a man who sets off to prove that he is the boss and that everything belongs to him. He conquers a flower, and a sheep, and a tree. But that is not enough. He goes after a field, and a lake, and a mountain, and they all eventually give in. But the sea, the sea is a different matter. The sea belongs to no man.
The subtitle of the book is “A Painted Fable” and that is what it is. The story has no extra in it in words or in illustrations. There is only what is necessary to tell the story, and it is all the more powerful for it.
Jeffers also includes a piece that Kurt Vonnegut wrote for the New Yorker that many people may skip, but it adds something to the story. In it he relates a conversation he had with writer Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22. They were at a party given by a billionaire, and he asked Joseph how he felt about the fact that the billionaire made more money in one day than his book made in its entire history.
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
So if you have enough, be content with that. You can strive for more, certainly, but be aware that you have enough. You never know what may happen if you go after something that is far too big for you to understand. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have goals, no, nothing like that. But claiming to own something beyond your comprehension can only get you into trouble.