Why?

  • Title: Why?
  • Author: Adam Rex
  • Illustrator: Claire Keane
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Brief Summary: From the publisher – “A sweet and appealing tale for anyone familiar with the universal tendency of young children to always ask WHY? When supervillain Doctor X-Ray swoops in threatening to vanquish an innocent crowd, the only one brave enough not to run away is a little girl, who asks him simply, “Why?” He is taken aback—but he answers. She keeps asking. And he keeps answering—until a surprising truth is uncovered, and the villain is thwarted.”
  • Ideas for using this book in classroom or library – Although I enjoyed this book, I am not sure that it could be used for any particular curriculum. I do think this book could be ideal for pre-school through 1st grade. I believe those age ranges could truly identify with the unnamed protagonist who’s inquisitive nature turns the mind of the “villain” Doctor X-Ray. However, at the core of the story is a lesson in not giving up on one’s dreams or what one is truly good at. So, personally, I think this lesson is transcendent of age. I think even middle-school age children would get a laugh at the irony found when Doctor X-Ray suddenly agrees with the little girl’s “Why?” to say, “Exactly! Why?! Knitting is amazing!” As an adult, I laughed out loud when on one page, the little girl sits in a huge armchair, and Doctor X-Ray lounges on a long couch, mimicking a psychiatrist and their patient.
  • Whatever additional notes you’d like to add about this book and why you liked or didn’t like it. – The images in this book, all digitally created, resemble the fast paced flow of an early comic book or perhaps a 60s cartoon (think The Jetsons). There are bright colors and a lot of white intermingled in the background, and within Doctor X-Ray’s coat. This is in sharp contrast to Doctor X-Ray’s memories, which are given a subdued yellowish wash. However, his “bad” memories are alternately rendered in dark purple or blue, the sadness palpable. I read this book out loud, and found there is a cadence between the little girl protagonist’s “Why?” and Doctor X-Ray’s answers.

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