cover image XO, OX: A Love Story

XO, OX: A Love Story

Adam Rex, illus. by Scott Campbell. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62672-288-0

She’s a famous, glamorous, and vain gazelle. He’s a salt-of-the-earth ox with a gift for plainspoken eloquence. Their journey toward romance is a rocky one, captured by Rex (How This Book Was Made) and Campbell (Hug Machine) through an epistolary format and luscious sepia-toned watercolors. Ox begins the correspondence with a declaration of love that seems like it would melt the hardest of hearts: “Even when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina who is running from tigers.” Gazelle, who swans around her mansion in a wardrobe befitting a 1930s movie star, is unmoved and sends back a form letter and autographed picture—twice (“I have many admirers and cannot reply to each one personally”). But Ox persists (in a non-stalkery way, it should be noted), and his good-humored self-awareness and unflagging devotion eventually win her over. Rex and Campbell don’t end with a romantic clinch, but with delicate evidence of Gazelle’s changed heart—though the endpapers will satisfy diehard romantics. It’s about as lovely (and funny) a story of opposites attracting that one could ask for. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.)