FICTION

Just Because

Candlewick. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763696801.
COPY ISBN
PreS-Gr 2–A loving dad patiently—and inventively—fields big-why questions from his daughter in this appealing bedtime book. Tucked under cozy covers with dog on lap, the girl begins her barrage of inquiries with “Why is the ocean blue?” A page turn reveals her father’s whimsical answer: “Every night, when you go to sleep, the fish take out guitars. They sing sad songs and cry blue tears.” The full-bleed illustration depicts a lush underwater scene with coral and swaying plants, fish plucking away at instruments with their fins, and arcs of gracefully spouting tears. As the questions continue, the answers become increasingly fanciful. When the inevitable has been delayed long enough and it’s time for lights out, the response to the girl’s final query—“Why do we have to sleep?”—gently shepherds young listeners into the world of dreams: “Because there are some things we can only see with our eyes closed.” Done in gouache, pencil, and watercolor, Arsenault’s strikingly detailed artwork depicts the bedroom scenes in grays, blacks, and soft whites. Each question is posed in a circle of muted color, and this same hue is featured in the imaginary scenario that follows, making for lovely book design and emphasizing how the fantastical can sometimes be so much more vivid than the empirical.
VERDICT A charming celebration of bedtime rituals and parent-child affection, this book also underscores the importance of fostering imagination and wonderment while nurturing young minds.

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