cover image Why?


Adam Rex, illus. by Claire Keane. Chronicle, $17.99 (60p) ISBN 978-1-4521-6863-0

Part origin story, part therapy session, this high-voltage comedy by Rex (Nothing Rhymes with Orange) pits a supervillain against an inquisitive child. Doctor X-Ray, wearing a lab coat and rocket boots, crashes through the glass atrium of an upscale mall. “Go ahead and run, puny fools!” he taunts. “No one can withstand the power of Doctor X-Ray!” The mall empties—all except for a wide-eyed girl with black pigtails, a stuffed animal, and a red polka-dotted dress. “Why?” she asks, as small children will. Her repetitive query works on Doctor X-Ray like a psychiatrist’s prompts, and his plans and disappointments come tumbling out, each answer leading to another “Why?” Black-outlined speech balloons give the spreads a comic-book vibe as stylish art by Keane (Love Is) cut between the two roaming the deserted mall and faded flashbacks to Doctor X-Ray’s tortured boyhood (“I put my heart and soul into that yarn store”). At last, exhausted, Doctor X-Ray has a moment of insight: “Look at me—I don’t even rule myself.” Though the self-analysis sequence is a bit drawn-out, the visual energy and satisfaction of each page’s awaiting answer keep this cinema-style romp hurtling forward. Ages 3–5. [em](Oct.) [/em]