Why?

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Why? Book Poster Image
Girl stops supervillain in funny tale with powerful message.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Word repetition ("why," "because," "dad," "world") will help early readers recognize letters and sounds.

Positive Messages

Asking and answering questions can lead to surprising, important realizations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Roles are reversed here, with a young girl as the voice of reason for an adult.

Violence & Scariness

As the stry begins, there's a treat that a 

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Adam Rex's Why? is a funny, engaging story with jump-off-the-page illustrations and a surprisingly deep message about what a hero story really is. It kicks off with Supervillain Doctor X-Ray flying into a mall and threatens to demolish a crowd of people, but then a little girl gets him to reconsider his action by asking him the simple question "Why?" repeatedly. Parents everywhere go through the “why” stage with their children, and this charming story gives a funny, insightful twist on the experience, and explores the possibilities from the child's point of view. The illustrations perfectly capture Doctor X-Ray's scattered, cartoonish anger and the simplicity of the child's response, and the image on the inside of the back cover ties up a loose end from the story so be sure to keep turning the pages. Older readers can explore the nuance of the story, and nonreaders can engage by "reading" along with the "Why?" on every page.

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What's the story?

In WHY?, Supervillain Doctor X-Ray flies into a mall and threatens to demolish a crowd of people too scared to do anything but run, until a young girl dares to ask him why. Repeatedly. With her simple curiosity, she breaks down his motivation, his anger, his frustration, and his bullying to arrive at a surprising truth.

Is it any good?

Author Adam Rex has tucked a deep message into this fun, funny, and visually stunning read-aloud book for families, classrooms, siblings, and emerging readers. At 60 pages, Why? is long enough to have a real story arc, and to have Doctor X-Ray's realization that "I'm the bad guy… I thought I was the hero…because everyone thinks he's the hero" come well before the last page. With every "why" uttered by a fearless child, the potential tyrant examines his life and motivations, showing that curiosity rules -- and can save the world. Younger readers might not get every layer to this story, but they'll have a lot to think about with this spectacular book.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a simple word like Why? so powerful. Have you ever changed your mind about something when you stopped to think about why you think that way?

  • Is it sometimes hard to admit, like Doctor X-Ray did, that what you're doing isn't the best idea?

  • Is it hard to stop and think about what you're doing before you do it? Can doing that be a good idea so you don't make a mistake?

Book details

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For kids who love picture books and funny stories

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