cover image Why?


Lila Prap, , trans. by Lili Potpara. . Kane/Miller, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-929132-80-5

Although the title (first published in Slovenia) may seem to indicate more philosophical subject matter, this paper-over-board book is actually a "Did you know" look at the animal kingdom—albeit one kicked up several notches by pleasingly corny jokes and elegantly naïf visual stylings. Prap profiles 14 animals (such as a zebra, whale and kangaroo) by posing a "Why?" question pertaining to each ("Why do lions have manes?" "Why do hyenas laugh?"). She then offers four unscientific answers, some of which sound like she isn't trying too hard ("Because" is one of the responses to the question about kangaroo pouches), but most of which display a fine understanding of a child's mind (one answer posits that elephants have trunks "to store snot"). The true scientific answer appears in a short paragraph on each spread's right margin ("Manes help to make lions look bigger, stronger and scarier. Manes also protect the lions' necks during fights") and so on. Set inside frames that stretch across the center of the spreads, Prap's animals offer readers a sidelong view and an animated expression (except for the crocodile, who is shedding tears). Her reliance on simple, bold shapes and strong black outlines will remind children of their own artwork, while her mottled textures, reminiscent of woodblock printing, add a dash of roughhewn sophistication. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)