BOOKLIST – May 15, 2019 (starred review)
By Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Illus. by the author Aug. 2019. 32p. Holiday, $18.99 (9780823441730); e-book, $11.99 (9780823442935). PreS–K
One of Seeger's great talents is distilling a child's concerns to their essence. Here the stand-in for the child is a sweet white rabbit who can be frisky and contemplative by turns, but what she does most consistently is ask the one-word question of the title. A shaggy brown bear with a remarkably expressive face is helpfully there to answer. What Rabbit is questioning never needs to be spelled out, because it is so simply depicted in the lovely, focused watercolor illustrations. As he waters flowers, Bear responds to the "why?" by saying, "Because flowers need water to grow." As Bear guzzles pots of honey, the reason is because it tastes good. And when he's lying against a rock, holding his stomach, it's because he "ate too much." But for some things, there are no answers. Rabbit spies a robin dead in the snow, and a sad Bear can only say, "Sometimes I don't know why." This celebration of friendship, which Seeger moves seamlessly through the seasons, gives children the opportunity to intuit that, while things change, there is also stability in love and relationships. A poignant ending reiterates that bond, which will be touching for children who like to ask plenty of questions and for the adults on whose laps they sit.