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BOY WONDERS by Calef Brown


by Calef Brown & illustrated by Calef Brown

Age Range: 6 & up

Pub Date: June 28th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7877-0
Publisher: Atheneum

This boy doesn't just wonder, he throws readers a forceful invitation: “May I ask you something? / Are you ever perplexed? / Completely vexed? / Do you have questions? / Queries? / Odd theories?” He does.

Brown’s book is in the grip of an effervescent momentum. Not that it really has anything to do with asking questions—of curiosity, of inquiry—though the boy sure does ask lots of questions. It is what, and especially how, he asks that spins the wheel. The story is shuttled along on Brown’s fine artwork: slightly jittery, slightly sinister, with blasts of color alternating with pages in shadow and clever interpretations of the boy’s increasingly loopy questions. His mind is a tinderbox to which Brown applies a match. “Do onions cry?” “Is water scared of waterfalls?” He adds some subversive wordplay as kindling: “Do clouds get jealous during storms, and steal each other’s thunder?” And “[i]f I’m too tired, am I a bike?” Soon thereafter, great logs are thrown on the fire. “Would a happy toucan / from the Yucatan / become cantankerous / up in Anchorage / or the Yukon? / What about Tucson?”

In the end, the questions and words are whole lotta fun, but it is the music the book makes that is the most arresting entertainment. (Picture book. 6 & up)