Why Do We Cry?

Kids Can. Apr. 2020. 34p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781525304774.
PreS-Gr 2–A boy dangling upside down on a park bench tentatively asks his mother the titular question in this Spanish import. Starting with the most obvious reason, the ensuing pages depict 13 different answers in loving, accessible language: “Sometimes we cry because the sadness we feel is so great that we just can’t contain it.” Sender has chosen to place the mother (depicted as a young, light-skinned woman with one dark braid) in the protagonist’s role, rather than her son Mario—perhaps to create some emotional distance for the viewer. It is the mother who is shown in silhouette, blackbirds being released from her hair in the opening. Other questions and explanations involve anger, lack of comprehension, facing an insurmountable wall, and the inability to “find the right words.” The palette shifts with the mood; a bicycle light sends a red, tear-shaped beam into a dark forest, while a green river supports the young woman in a pre-Raphaelite pose as she experiences pain, but considers that “Tears are the best medicine.” Ultimately, Mario’s mother notes that “…we cry because we feel like crying. That’s the most important reason.” When the boy asks, in the final scene as they dance in puddles, why his mother is crying, she explains that tears can flow from happiness as well. The final spread provides well-chosen facts about tears, including what they are made of, why they are productive, and how they look under a microscope.
VERDICT A sensitive, creative exploration of a universal phenomenon.

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