cover image Ceci Ann's Day of Why

Ceci Ann's Day of Why

Christopher Phillips, , illus. by Shino Arihara. . Tricycle, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-58246-171-7

Phillips's (The Philosophers' Club ) moving and delightfully rendered picture book pays tribute to the rewards of being fully present in the world. As the African-American heroine looks around her, she's inspired to ask a host of interesting questions, all of them beginning with "Why?" "Why are there birds?/ Why is there sky?" she asks as she walks to school with her dad. "Why are there words?/ Why is there why?" She never hears the answers, but they are beside the point anyway; what's important—and empowering—is Ceci Ann's attentiveness, her openness to phenomena both profound ("Why is that round?" she ponders when kids blow bubbles on the playground) to silly (fun with her best friend makes her wonder, "Why do we giggle? Why do we gush?"). Using Phillip's spare, Zen-like rhymes as a springboard, newcomer Arihara takes flight with her gouache spreads of everyday childhood situations. At times, the mood is contemplative, but the pictures never feel overly austere or ruminative. Mostly, the simple shapes, bright colors and evocative textures (suggesting a clay wall or a grassy playground) portray a world full of activity and maybe even a bit scary at times (there is a run-in with a bully and a big dog). A sense of calm emanates from the heart of the pictures, and it's clear that Ceci Ann's questions are the result of feeling loved and secure. Ages 4-7. (Oct.)