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Saturday, April 8, 2017

XO,OX: A Love Story, written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Scott Campbell. A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $24.99 ages 5 and up

"Dear Gazelle,

I DO understand that you must
have many, many admirers and
cannot reply to each letter
personally. So it means SO
much that you replied personally
to mine.


OX is not unlike my granddaughters - the personification of persistence. What Ox wants is to attract the attention of the famous and narcissistic Gazelle. Yes, she is famous. No, Ox is not. But, Ox determines that he will attract her attention by sending her a fan letter. He wants her to know why he finds her so admirable.

"Dear Gazelle,

For some time now I have wanted to write a letter to say
how much I admire you. You are so graceful and fine. Even
when you are running from tigers you are like a ballerina
who is running from tigers.

I think that what I am trying to say is that I love you.


Gazelle responds with the form letter sent to all who share their thoughts and feelings about her. Ox is not deterred. He continues his correspondence. Gazelle has her minion respond with a replica of her first response. Ox thinks it is a sign of intelligence and 'a tidy mind' that both replies are exactly the same.

Her next missive will be her last, she asserts. And, he need not write to her again.

Of course, he does and agrees that she may have a few faults. Her response is quickly sent and terse:

"But when I say that I have many faults, people usually
like to tell me that I do not have any faults at all.

(Unlike some animals who may have many faults, such
as that they are too large, and too stout, and have strong
smells about them, and clumsy brains.)

Au revoir,

The last two letters have come straight from Gazelle's pen - a sure sign that he has finally attracted her attention. Isn't that exactly what he wanted? And FYI, the correspondence does not stop there.

Scott Campbell's watercolor and colored pencil artwork is full of charm and expands on the humor of the expressive notes that go back and forth between two unlikely loves. We meet them in endpapers and have a pretty good idea of personality before actually getting to know them better. We do become more fully acquainted with each turn of the page! 

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