cover image NO Is All I Know!

NO Is All I Know!

Chris Grabenstein, illus. by Leo Espinosa. Random House, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-5933-0204-0

In another socially themed picture book from the creators of No More Naps!, young Oliver McSnow responds “NO!” when faced with any ask, big or small. Whether the inquiry is about the necessary (teeth-brushing, getting dressed) or the potentially enjoyable (playing on the swings, even getting ice cream), big red dialogue balloons emanate from the child with Oliver’s signature oppositional. “His NO! became so strong... there was no way to stop it,” Grabenstein writes, and readers will sense that Oliver, who now smells “cheesy” from never bathing and eating only mac and cheese, is just as weary of it as his parents. A solution arrives in the form of tenaciously positive cousin Jess, who “liked to say YES” and pulls Oliver along. Pencil and digital cartoons by Espinosa show the two boys, both portrayed with light brown skin, embracing puddle splashing, hanging out with other kids, and playing in the bathtub with “toys that could become whatever they yessed them to be.” Some readers may see Jess’s approach as more fait accompli than friendly nudge, but the creators make it clear that when one is in as deep a rut as Oliver, a teaspoon won’t do an excavator’s job. Ages 3–7. (May)