Little Tiger Press, 2016
32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99
Tucked in the back, in-between the legs of the elder elephants, Little Why is supposed to walk in line and stay out of harm’s way. But it is a big, new world out there with lots of new things to see. Things such as Wildebeest’s spiny-spiky special horns.
“Wow!” he gasps. I need some spiny-spiky special horns like those!. I would look super-duper scary! I would charge this way and that. Could I have some spiny-spiky special horns?”
“No”, he is told and ordered back into line. But it’s hard to stay in line when you spot a giraffe with long-lofty leggy legs that would be good for reaching the highest leaves, or a cheetah with speedy-spotty, fuzzy fur or a crocodile with a snippy-snazzy snout! Even a near miss doesn’t stop him but he does stay in line, even though he has the sulks…
This is a charming variation on a common theme of stories for little children – that they are special and perfect just the way they are – but Little Why with his constant asking of “Why?’ is so resonant of a young pre-schooler that is has instant appeal. And who hasn’t fallen in love with images of baby elephants waddling in and out of their parents’ legs as they take their first steps. The illustrations are detailed and their collage-like structure gives them texture and depth, with the expressions bringing the animals and text to life. There is also the added detail of two little insects to discover on each page as well as Little Why’s constant companion, a little blue bird who keeps a careful eye on him. Little ones will appreciate the perspective of Little Why looking up at the world, just as they do.
This is another story that, as well as having having that oft-used theme that is essential to a healthy self-esteem and sense of self-worth , has the sort of language, rhythm and repetition that little listeners love and delight in exploring for themselves.