12.28.2015

Ask Me by Bernard Waber, illustrated by Suzy Lee


Bernard Waber's posthumously published Ask Me is a gem of a book. And Waber's text is perfectly paired with Suzy Lee's illustrations. Ask Me is more of a moment than a story, with no real plot or revelation. As an adult reading Ask Me, it may feel like a memory to you - from your own childhood or from your children's. A father and daughter head out on a walk, the daughter gently commanding her father to, "Ask me what I like." He responds, his words in a faded blue - no quotation marks are used. The girl's answers sometimes lead to more questions and sometimes lead to her reply, "Ask me what else I like." Her answers are perfectly childlike and never coy, syrupy or clearly an adult trying to write a child's voice. Which is why reading Ask Me feels like a memory - you know you have heard these questions asked and answered before, maybe even by your younger self.



Sometimes when asked if she likes a thing, as with ice cream cones, the little girl will respond, "No, I love, love love ice cream cones." Waber captures another charmingly childish trait when the little girl says, "Ask me some more I likes," and, "Now ask me a How come?" as she and her father meander through the park. The day ends sweetly, with goodnights, teddys, tuck-ins and a final "Ask me," when the little girl says, "Ask me if I want another good night kiss?" Suzy Lee, a magnificent illustrator of her own books (my reviews here) brings a perfect pace and scope to the meandering text, keeping it moving with her gorgeous illustrations of a park in the fall. Sticking to a limited color palette also strengthens and supports the text and always feels in sync. Lee's colored pencil illustrations capture the movement, ebullience and joy of the little girl as she experiences, explores and enjoys the world around her and the attention of her father simultaneously.


Source: Review Copy

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