Award-Winning Early Readers Features Genre It's Monday What Are You Reading Lifespan of a Reader Otherworldly Realms - Fantasia Picture Books Reading Themes

[Monday Reading] Endless WHYs That Lead To Friendship, Self-Knowledge, and Wisdom in 2019 Picturebooks

Why indeed?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community. 

I love how these two picturebooks celebrate the Whys often asked by children – and the circuitous pathways through which this question leads – towards answers that are unexpected, enlightening, and ultimately life-affirming. While they don’t fit our international literature reading theme, it does fit our fantasia theme quite nicely, since otherworldly realms can only be accessed by asking the question Why.

Why? [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written and Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Published by Neal Porter Books (2019)
ISBN: 0823441733 (ISBN13: 9780823441730) Book Award: CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards Nominee for Talk (2020) Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

In this story, the white rabbit is the one asking the endless Why? while Brown Bear provides short and patient responses. There is very little elaboration on the nature of the question, but Bear seems to know exactly the answers that Rabbit requires.

I love how the two friends intuitively understand each other and how gentle Bear is in trying to answer Rabbit’s seemingly-infinite Whys:

What I loved most, however, was when Bear inevitably admitted that there are questions that he is unable to answer. It could have been articulated with frustration, but I prefer to think of it as quiet resignation, despite the exclamation point in the end:

How the story ends as their roles shift, I shall leave for you to discover. A truly lovely story about friendship and how there will always be questions left unanswered, and that is alright.

Why? [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Adam Rex Illustrated by Claire Keane
Published by Chronicle Books (2019)
ISBN: 1452168636 (ISBN13: 9781452168630) Borrowed via NLB Singapore Overdrive. Book photos from e-book.

There are a few irreverent, delightfully-witty, fearlessly-funny children’s book authors whom I thoroughly admire – and Adam Rex happens to be one of them. In his latest picturebook, he once again delivers with this gap-toothed young girl whose endless Why?s led to a transformation of a villain to a hero.

While everyone else ran away in terror from Dr. X-Ray who wanted to rule the world and get everyone else to do their bidding, this little girl was curious enough to remain and ask Why?

As Dr. X answered one Why? after another, he is led to delve deeper and deeper into his psyche. The endless Why? has led to a subterranean psychological analysis of how this man who only wanted to please his father (I am glad it was not mother issues, but unresolved father-son conflicts) turned into this power-hungry creature.

This is a hilarious, multi-layered picturebook that would not only appeal to a child’s sensibility, but to adults (umm… men, I think) who may be suffering from God complexes, and wondering about whether they are indeed heroes or villains.

This is a brilliant story that would make for a great picturebook read-aloud, and shows the wisdom that can be gleaned from answering the question Why and fearlessly going to where it inevitably leads.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

5 comments on “[Monday Reading] Endless WHYs That Lead To Friendship, Self-Knowledge, and Wisdom in 2019 Picturebooks

  1. The first “Why” book looks like the one I would love the most. Such beautiful and sweet illustrations and tone.

    I’m not sure if I’ve read any Adam Rex books; I’ll have to watch for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ok, I want to read both of these, but let’s admit that Adam Rex is just brilliant! Unfortunately, this book is not available in my library system.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Those sound like great read alouds, especially since the kids could contribute the WHY?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rebecca Herzog

    I am a huge fan of Adam Rex as well. I just put Why on hold at the library–thanks for the suggestion!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m very much looking forward to reading Adam Rex’s Why book! So witty… and yet my children will enjoy it, as well. Thanks for the shares, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

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