cover image Why?


Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4173-0

A little white rabbit is always asking, “Why?”—to which his kind, even-tempered bear friend usually has a simple but satisfying response. “Why?” the rabbit asks, watching the bear water a patch of blooms. “Because flowers need water to grow,” the bear replies. Seasonal watercolor spreads by Seeger (Blue) are idyllic; the bear, painted in radiant, translucent oranges and browns, is patient but not paternal, which grants the small wiry rabbit a modicum of independence. But when winter arrives and the latter finds a dead cardinal in the snow—a startling but beautiful image—the refrain suddenly becomes too big for even the massive bear: “I don’t know why. Sometimes I just don’t know why,” it says, trudging away to hibernate. Coming full circle, the rabbit asks its friend to stay (“Why?” the bear asks. “Because then I would miss my friend.... That’s why”) and patiently keeps watch while the bear sleeps. But the ending feels more flat than uplifting, and readers may not be able to get past rabbit’s toddlerlike querying habit to appreciate its fondness for its friend. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.) [/em]