cover image Twenty Questions

Twenty Questions

Mac Barnett, illus. by Christian Robinson. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1513-7

Barnett and Robinson (Leo: A Ghost Story) reteam for this interactive picture book, which asks questions that spur contemplation and wonder. Alongside an initial question—“How many animals can you see in this picture?”—the first pages show a green tree dotted with various creatures, including a peacock, a panther, and a snake. A page later, a lone orange tiger creeps through dense undergrowth. “How many animals can you not see in this one,” sly text reads, “because they’re hiding from the tiger?” Across a string of expansive queries, the images’ quiet understatement provides a dry counterpoint to the questions’ whimsy. Attending one spread that shows six people with different skin tones and styles, and a police officer driving by them, Barnett asks, “Which of these ladies just robbed a bank?” Some pages invite speculation (about a cow perched on a wind turbine: “How did that cow get all the way up there?”), others tease (regarding a bathtub in which two eyes are just visible: “What kind of beast lives in this bathtub?”), and some encourage storytelling (relating to a figure and seagulls pictured alongside an outcropping, “Who is she waiting for?”). All of them set readers free to notice and invent. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)