When Girl Child was a toddler and reached the ‘why’ stage, a friend advised me to try giving increasingly lengthy and complex answers so she would soon get bored. Unfortunately this was not a good tactic with my little information sponge, and she would keep asking why until my own knowledge base was exhausted. The little girl in ‘Why?’ has a similar energy, and I love her for it. When her dad points out a rainbow and explains that they occur when sun and rain come together, her interest is piqued and she needs to know more. Lots more.
I think a lot of parents will relate to the rising stress levels of the dad, whose answers become increasingly scientific and technical as her desperately tries to satisfy his daughter’s thirst for knowledge!
I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s an impressive feat to not only explain complex science in a way that’s accessible to children, but to do it whilst also rhyming! It definitely taught me a few things I either never knew or have forgotten in the 20 years since I last studied science. (Sorry science teachers, I’m sure you explained all this to me back then but my brain decided memorising Britpop lyrics was more important.)
The illustrations complement the text brilliantly, helping to explain the science behind rainbows and refraction in a really accessible way – that is, until the final explanation at which point the page is taken over by formulae and symbols as the dad’s knowledge finally reaches its limits. I also love the subtleties with which the dad’s expression changes with the turn of each page, not easily with just a few dots and lines. The curiosity and exuberance of the daughter is also very well expressed. And I absolutely love the visual gag on the very last page!
I’m really impressed with this picture book. The use of rhyme makes it appealing to children and it explains scientific principles really clearly, whilst also adding in humour for the adult reading it. I think it would appeal to older toddlers, preschoolers and younger school-age children depending on their level of understanding, but I do plan on leaving it lying around for my eight year old, “too big for picture books” Girl Child as I think she will really enjoy the scientific element.
‘Why?’ is due to be published by Maverick Books in October 2020.