Kirkus - starred review for WHY


KIRKUS REVIEW - starred review

by Laura Vaccaro Seeger ; illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Age Range: 4 - 8

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)