Neal Porter Bks Holiday House/. Aug. 2019. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780823441730.
PreS-Gr 1–“‘Why?’ asked the rabbit,” as a honey colored bear placidly waters the flowers, “‘Because flowers need water to grow.’” And so the story progresses; Bear acts, Rabbit wonders, and Bear provides straightforward explanations. The text and illustrations must be interpreted together for readers to understand the context of the question—sometimes to humorous effect, such as the spread that shows Rabbit poking out of a hole while Bear explains, “Because I am way too big to fit.” The larger font used for Rabbit’s “Why?” conveys the inescapable intensity of the little creature’s persistent questioning. Seasons change, and the questions come faster and faster, outpacing Bear’s answers until a dead bird in the snow prompts the gentle giant to answer, “I don’t know why. Sometimes I just don’t know why!” Bear turns to leave,Rabbit chases after. ‘“Don’t go,’ said the rabbit.’” And the tables are turned as Bear is the one asking why while Rabbit explains, “Because then I would miss my friend.” Readers see through the illustrations that it’s time for Bear to hibernate, but are reassured that the friendship will last as Rabbit watches over Bear’s wintery cave. Seeger’s slightly anthropomorphized characters eloquently convey their feelings through body language.
VERDICT Illustrations and text meld to provide a rich one-on-one reading experience that will be particularly resonate for any adult who has cared for a child in the ‘why’ phase

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