Chronicle. Oct. 2019. 60p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452168630.
Gr 1-3–Superheroes and supervillains are everywhere these days, so it comes as no surprise when a villain known as Dr. X-Ray crashes into a shopping mall to mount his scheme to rule the world. The villain encounters a persistent and inquisitive young girl who responds to Dr. X-Ray’s every statement with one question: “Why?” Subjected to the child’s relentless questioning, Dr. X-Ray reveals his tragic-yet-silly backstory, questions his role in society, and ultimately reforms his evil ways. All the dialogue is told in comic book–style word balloons, with Dr. X-Ray speaking in bold all-caps and the little girl in a smaller script typeface that emphasizes the cloying nature of her questions. The unnamed child stands out in a red dress with white polka dots, but Dr. X-Ray’s simple white coat and black boots can get lost in backgrounds that are either empty and monochromatic or busy and hastily sketched. Dr. X-Ray’s flashbacks are tinted various colors, adding some variety to the illustrations. The book’s message is that we can incite social change with persistent questioning, but perhaps it only works if we encounter a supervillain who is willing to be introspective and candid during interrogation.
VERDICT Parents will appreciate the social message and kids will enjoy a supervillain with a kooky backstory about how much he loves knitting.

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