Starred review for WHY in BookPage
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Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Review by Julie Danielson
August 13, 2019


Channeling the abundant curiosity of a toddler, a rabbit consistently asks questions of his friend, a large and patient bear. The rabbit is of a more philosophical bent, asking “why?” of everything the bear does in this story, told entirely in dialogue.

The illustrations do the heavy lifting in this sparsely worded story, telling us what we need to know about the close bond between the two. Why, the rabbit wonders, must they look through a telescope to see the stars at night? Because they are so far away, the bear responds. The bear is also able to explain why she likes honey, why too much of it makes her ill, why birds fly south for the winter and more.

But when the rabbit sees a fallen bird, the bear is stumped, acknowledging the mysteries and frustrations of loss: “I don’t know why. Sometimes I just don’t know why!” When the bear sadly saunters off, the rabbit begs her to stay, and now it’s the bear’s turn to ask why. The rabbit’s response brings this gentle and graceful story full circle, cementing their friendship and serving as a subtle reminder that grief can be endured with a friend nearby.

This reassuring tale, rendered via watercolors on a lush, green palette, isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions (or in this case, one big question), suggesting that love can persist in the face of loss. Even young readers who have yet to experience loss will find resonance in this quiet story in which answers may not come easy—but steadfastness does.

Julie Danielson conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.