Written by Bernard Waber, Illustrated by Suzy Lee
Houghton Mifflin, 2015
Ask me what I like.
The plot in a nutshell: During a walk, a girl and her father have a chat.
The girl tells her dad what she likes as they walk through a beautiful park on a gorgeous autumn day. He continues to ask her questions, some of which are at her own request. They get ice cream cones and reminisce about good times they’ve had together. She tells him all the things she likes and then the questions change to ‘how come’ so that she can tell him why she likes them. As they head home, the topic changes to her upcoming birthday, which she discusses in detail while getting ready for bed. The last thing she asks for is another good night kiss.
This absolutely delightful book was published two years after the death of its author, Bernard Waber, who was familiar to me through The House on East 88th Street and his other stories about Lyle the Crocodile. It’s a fitting end to his career and a wonderful tribute to father/daughter relationships. The book’s text is nothing but dialogue between the father and daughter, with the daughter dictating a lot of how she wants the conversation to go and the father patiently complying with her requests. The text color changes between the two speakers, but it’s very easy to follow along and know who is talking because of the way it’s written. The voices of the characters are captured perfectly.
Making this book even more warm and wonderful are the illustrations from artist Suzy Lee, whose pencil drawings bring these characters to joyful life. Nothing really momentous happens to these two, so we’re really only capturing a slice-of-life day for them, but you can see how much they’re enjoying it in every picture. There’s no mention of a mother, so you don’t know what their situation is, but it absolutely doesn’t matter, since the relationship between these two is so gratifyingly expressed that you don’t get the sense that anything is missing. It’s a great book for anyone, but I think it would be especially good for fathers and daughters to read together.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that any time spent being joyfully in the company of someone who makes you happy is special time, even if you’re doing something ordinary.