Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2013
This boy doesn't just wonder, he throws readers a forceful invitation: “May I ask you something? / Are you ever perplexed? / Completely vexed? / Do you have questions? / Queries? / Odd theories?” He does.
Brown’s book is in the grip of an effervescent momentum. Not that it really has anything to do with asking questions—of curiosity, of inquiry—though the boy sure does ask lots of questions. It is what, and especially how, he asks that spins the wheel. The story is shuttled along on Brown’s fine artwork: slightly jittery, slightly sinister, with blasts of color alternating with pages in shadow and clever interpretations of the boy’s increasingly loopy questions. His mind is a tinderbox to which Brown applies a match. “Do onions cry?” “Is water scared of waterfalls?” He adds some subversive wordplay as kindling: “Do clouds get jealous during storms, and steal each other’s thunder?” And “[i]f I’m too tired, am I a bike?” Soon thereafter, great logs are thrown on the fire. “Would a happy toucan / from the Yucatan / become cantankerous / up in Anchorage / or the Yukon? / What about Tucson?” In the end, the questions and words are whole lotta fun, but it is the music the book makes that is the most arresting entertainment.
– Kirkus Reviews
Runaway punnery and nonstop questions drive this rhyming book, which calls attention to similar-sounding words and figures of speech. Brown's (Hallowilloween) title refers to a pensive boy who asks, "Are you ever perplexed? Completely vexed?" and unleashes his ruminations. The text, illustrated in surreal acrylics that convey an imagination in overdrive, opens in a high-energy yet manageable way: "Do bees get hives?/ Do onions cry?/ Is pepper apt to sneeze?/ Do paper plates/ and two-by-fours/ remember being trees?" As pages turn, absurd tongue-twisters and weird images accumulate, as in a portrait of a frowning blue-violet bird in an icy landscape: "Would a happy toucan/ from the Yucatan/ become cantankerous/ up in Anchorage/ or the Yukon?/ How about in Tucson?" Enjoyment depends on a pleasure in assonance and consonance, and a capacity to deconstruct skewed metaphors ("Do clouds get jealous during storms,/ and steal each other's thunder?"); more than anything, this one seems likely to spur discussions about the idioms, animals, and vocabulary that appear within.
– Publishers Weekly
Parents need to know that the main character in this book has a lot of funny questions. This book's poetic language makes it great to read aloud -- and fun for new readers, too. Be prepared for some discussions about the questions -- and also to help your kids learn the definitions for some of the more challenging vocabulary words. This delightful book is a must for curious kids with a thousand questions. The questions are often silly and nonsensical -- "Would a happy toucan from the Yucatan become cantankerous up in Anchorage or the Yukon? -- but the puns, rhymes, tongue twisters, and frequent use of words that sound alike make the book fun to read aloud. Beginning readers especially will be tickled as they sound out the rhythmic passages slowly, and then more quickly. Wild, animated illustrations done in acrylics bring the text to life.
– Common Sense Media