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Monday, June 23, 2014

Why Are You Doing That? Written by Elisa Amado and illustrated by Manuel Monroy. Groundwood, 2014. $16.95 ages 3 and up

"Chepito ran around the corner. He saw Dona Ana throwing corn to some chickens. "Why are you doing that?" he asked. "Because the chickens need to eat," answered Dona Ana. "What for? What for?" sang Chepito. "So that they can grow strong and lay good eggs like the ones you had for breakfast."

Do  you remember Chepito? If you read What Are You Doing? (Groundwood, 2011), you will remember him as a very young boy who was learning everything he could about those things people read, and why they do. You might also be thankful that you are not the parent or teacher of someone so full of questions. But, how else will he learn about the world?

In their second collaboration, Elisa Amado and Manuel Monroy revisit Chepito at home and in his neighborhood. This time, he knows what people are doing; he wants to know why? If your kids are grown you will have strong memories of the 'whys' that you constantly answered. If you are there right now, this, too, shall pass. There are so many things going on in a child's world; if they don't ask why, how will they learn about them?

The refrain is endless:

"Why are doing that?
What for?
What for?"

Do you feel a scream coming on? Luckily, Chepito is surrounded by adults who don't mind answering his many questions. They are patient and kind, and he learns much along the path he takes. As Chepito learns about the food grown and produced for his sustenance, we learn right along with him. A short glossary is helpful.

Manuel Monroy's illustrations were done digitally, starting with drawings in color pencil and watercolor. Chepito will be familiar to you, if you read the first book. The warmth and charm of the quiet village life are a perfect match to the affection of the text.

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