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Saturday, August 22, 2015

What If I Won't? Written by Maureen Fergus and illustrated by Qin Leng. Owlkids Books, 2015. $17.95 ages 5 and up

"What would you do if instead of staying in time-out, I ran around the house drawing on the walls with permanent marker?" asked Benny. "What would you do if I put on my muddy rain boots and jumped on the couch?'

The days of taking a stand with my kids are long gone, thank goodness. However, no parent can totally forget the whys, who says? and what-ifs?

Benny's mother is not immune to them as she tries to deal with her young son, and his emerging independence and questions about authority. To start it all, her request is simple ... "Benny, please put your plate in the sink."

It sets off a series of questions and answers that become increasingly imaginative and funny.

"But what would you do if you couldn't
catch it?" asked Benny.
"And it smashed into the wall, you mean?"
said his mom.
"Exactly!" said Benny.

"I'd make you clean up the mess, of course."

Impish behavior and a mother's tolerant responses carry this story from page to page in quick time. Qin Leng's digitally colored illustrations are great fun. She gives each new vignette a liveliness that is sure to attract readers' interest. The color changes make it easy to differentiate between what is real, and what is imagined.

The zoo, the circus and even a trip to space seem appropriate responses to Benny's always naughtier
premises. If even the aliens didn't want to keep him and send him back home, what do you think his mother might do?

"I'd give you a big hug," replied his mom. "I'd tell you how much
I'd missed you and how much I love you ...

... then I'd ask you to please put your plate in the sink."

Moms always have the last word; that is how it should be, don't you think?

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