Not all questions can be answered, but the communion of friendship lights much of life’s path.

WHY?

A patient bear deftly answers most of a childlike rabbit’s many “whys.”

As the two friends perch with a telescope beneath a starry sky, the rabbit’s “Why?” garners a contextual answer: “Because they are very far away.” When the bear guzzles honey from three large jars, the inevitable query is met with “Because it tastes so good.” The turn of the page reveals a reclining, lethargic bear. “Why?” “Because I ate too much.” Seeger’s patterned text invites readers to tease out what the friends’ spare conversation leaves unsaid, scanning for clues among the pictures. Comic moments derive from the bear’s succinct responses: The rabbit, buffeted while hanging from a branch (“Wind…”), falls into the bear’s arms (“Gravity”). Seeger’s watercolors capture seasonal changes as nature’s greens yield to falling leaves and flurrying snow. When the rabbit contemplates a dead cardinal, vivid red against the snow, the bear, eyes conveying emotion, says, “I don’t know why. Sometimes I just don’t know why!” As the bear moves toward a beckoning cave, the rabbit begs the bear to stay—and it’s the bear’s turn to ask “Why?” A final scene shows the slumbering bear, the rabbit gazing from above, as snow falls. There are poignant echoes of Margaret Wise Brown’s The Dead Bird and Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman here.

Not all questions can be answered, but the communion of friendship lights much of life’s path. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4173-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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As ephemeral as a valentine.

LOVE FROM THE CRAYONS

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez,...

MANGO, ABUELA, AND ME

Abuela is coming to stay with Mia and her parents. But how will they communicate if Mia speaks little Spanish and Abuela, little English? Could it be that a parrot named Mango is the solution?

The measured, evocative text describes how Mia’s español is not good enough to tell Abuela the things a grandmother should know. And Abuela’s English is too poquito to tell Mia all the stories a granddaughter wants to hear. Mia sets out to teach her Abuela English. A red feather Abuela has brought with her to remind her of a wild parrot that roosted in her mango trees back home gives Mia an idea. She and her mother buy a parrot they name Mango. And as Abuela and Mia teach Mango, and each other, to speak both Spanish and English, their “mouths [fill] with things to say.” The accompanying illustrations are charmingly executed in ink, gouache, and marker, “with a sprinkling of digital magic.” They depict a cheery urban neighborhood and a comfortable, small apartment. Readers from multigenerational immigrant families will recognize the all-too-familiar language barrier. They will also cheer for the warm and loving relationship between Abuela and Mia, which is evident in both text and illustrations even as the characters struggle to understand each other. A Spanish-language edition, Mango, Abuela, y yo, gracefully translated by Teresa Mlawer, publishes simultaneously.

This warm family story is a splendid showcase for the combined talents of Medina, a Pura Belpré award winner, and Dominguez, an honoree. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6900-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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