Friday, September 9, 2016

Too Many Questions!

Too Many Questions!
written and illustrated by Kathryn Dennis
2016 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Did anyone notice I'm leaving?

What is the number one way a young child can drive their parental units to mental exhaustion? It might be the forty-ninth reading of a favorite book. Or the formation of a pool on your bathroom floor during bath time. Perhaps the number one way is the asking of a question, or two, or three hundred. Alexander Pope wrote “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” I’m not sure he wasn’t thinking about toddlers, but the phrase fits. Knowledge is followed by more questions. Mouse is one such youngster. “Why do I have a tail?,  “Are my ears too big?”, and “Why do I have to take a bath?” are some of his many queries. His family is understandably overwhelmed. So much so that Mouse feels the need to go on the road to find answers for his ever expanding list. Having looked in every direction including deep, Mouse goes the altitude route and seeks the wise man on the top of the mountain. After taking a figurative body blow due to Mouse’s incessant inquisition, the wise man directs him to a place where he will find answers to his questions.

Kathryn Dennis could have taken the easy way out and written a sweet little story about a mouse family taking their child to the library to get a card. Instead, she writes a clever tale with a surprise ending in a very short text. This is probably one of the most difficult tasks you can give a writer. Not only that, but Dennis puts a bow on this literary present by giving us three pages of questions and answers at the end of the book. Questions include "Could dinosaurs swim?", "Do pineapples grow on pine trees?", and "Where does the water in your bathtub go?". We should celebrate with young readers that Mouse's questions led to a big answer. They also led to a very entertaining book.

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