Sunday, July 12, 2015 

From the Sunday New York Times Book Review, July 12, 2015

Bernard Waber’s “Ask Me” begins on a glorious fall day as a girl and her father amble through a park. The book opens with a directive: “Ask me what I like,” she tells him. “What do you like?” he says. “I like dogs. I like cats. I like turtles. I like geese,” she says, spotting a skein of geese over a pond. She prompts him with another question to ask her, and another. They pass joggers, people walking dogs and children playing. They kick piles of leaves into the air. The girl is attentive to everything around her, but never loses the thread of their conversation. 
“Ask Me” has no plot. Nothing revelatory happens. The entire book unfolds in dialogue. No quot
ation marks are used; the conversation floats along the pages. Through these ordinary exchanges, Waber conveys a close, affectionate familial bond and a child’s relentless inquisitiveness and energy.
The daughter goes on to name more of what she likes: riding merry-go-round horses, digging in the sand, the color red, stories about bears; and what she loves, including flowers and ice cream cones — yet the father never loses patience. He clearly enjoys asking her questions, and he appreciates her delight. They are smiling on every page.
At one point, he tells her why birds build nests: “So they will have a safe place to lay their eggs.” The girl responds, “I knew that.” “Why did you ask?” he says. “Because I like to hear you tell it.” It’s a wonderful moment. Next comes a two-page spread, which contains no words. Amid a splendor of vermilion, orange, gold and green, the father and daughter lie blissfully in the grass, their shoes kicked off. The scene shows them relaxed and happy to be in the presence of each other. Their walk will go on — but for now, perhaps they are pausing to reflect on all they’ve seen and done.
Waber wrote more than 30 books for children, including his classic “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” series. He died at 91 in 2013, and the posthumously published “Ask Me” reminds us of his subtle humor and tremendous empathy.
To read the article in it's entirety, please click HERE.

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