WHAT ARE YOU DOING? by Elisa Amado

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

by , illustrated by
Age Range: 4 - 7

KIRKUS REVIEW

A young boy discovers the possibilities of reading on his first day of school. In an unnamed Latin American country, Chepito sets off to explore his neighborhood. He asks the titular question to the seven people he encounters with books, from a girl reading a Mafalda comic book to a mechanic poring over a repair manual to an archeologist on a Maya site. Each answers Chepito’s questioning refrain of “Why, why, why?” differently, illuminating reading's potential. After a barely shown half-day at school, Chepito returns home with a book of his own, eager to share his discovery with his mother and younger sister. Guatemalan-born Amado spends half of the book in a repetitive-phrase pattern but then abruptly shifts to a more traditional narrative format. While some of the familiar questions reappear, the author never regains the engaging structure of the first 14 pages. A few of the words (“hieroglyphics,” “stela” and “archeologist”) will be unfamiliar to the book’s audience, and teachers and parents may wish for a glossary or an author’s note for explication of the Maya references in the text and illustrations. Mexican illustrator Monroy’s palette of mostly tans, browns and greens gives the artwork a nostalgic feel but may appeal more to adults than to young children. Nevertheless, the book captures some of the initial excitement of emergent literacy against a setting too-little seen in North American children's books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55498-070-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Groundwood
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2011




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