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THAT'S HOW! by Christoph Niemann


by Christoph Niemann & illustrated by Christoph Niemann

Age Range: 5 - 7

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-201963-9
Publisher: Greenwillow

Bold, brightly colored graphics, big, brushed letters and patent silliness catch the eye but perhaps not the imagination. A little girl asks a little boy, “How does a truck work?” The boy says, “Let me think,” as they both regard a shiny red panel truck. On the next page, a silhouette cutaway of the truck is shown, with a supine lion turning the gears with his toes. “That’s how!” he says. The girl responds, “Wow!” And so it goes. The girl asks a question, the boy thinks about it, the visual shows some very odd animals providing the engine for a pink airplane (birds with fuchsia feet), a steamroller (a parrot tickling some highly amused bears), a train (a kitchen full of monkeys). Finally, the girl asks about a bicycle, but before he can answer, she climbs aboard, puts on her helmet and rides off. “Wow!” he says. Ink drawings and digital shapes make for a smooth, cartoony surface. It all feels sexist and gender-divisive, even though the girl makes the final—correct—point. Young readers might admire the boy’s powers of invention (the pink bunny manipulating the green lizard inside the backhoe is really quite something), but they might also wonder both why he pontificates so and why she bothers to ask. A nifty concept doesn't quite make it in execution. (Picture book. 5-7)