Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: And What if I Won't?

Publish June 23, 2015

In the tradition of the 1942 classic The Runaway Bunny, Maureen Fergus and Qui Leng take parent-child banter to a new and outrageous level in And What If I Won’t? When Benny’s mom asks him to put his plate in the sink, her innocent request gets him thinking about what might happen if he doesn’t obey. Each time Benny asks “And what if I won’t?” he muses about ever-increasing levels of misbehaviour. As the degree of mayhem rises, Mom is forced to escalate his punishment, hilariously spiralling the situation right into outer space. Parents and children will identify with this little boy and his mom. As Benny explores his boundaries, Mom is game to let her imagination run wild, too. Fergus’ language sets an entertaining scene that is nicely balanced by Leng’s illustrations in which Mom remains patient and calm and Benny is mischievous, never angry or upset. Their expressions and body language create a sense of calm, in spite of the fact that Benny has been sold to the circus then sent to live with aliens. (Benny secretly likes this idea!) Leng squeezes some subtle fun into the pictures as well; readers should take a close look inside the little red wagon and at the portraits on the kitchen wall. Fun and light-hearted on the surface, on a deeper level And What If I Won’t? gives the sense that there is – or should be – time and space for the imagination. The dishes will always be there, but the opportunity to play might not.

And What if I Won't?

Maureen Fergus
Illustration EN: Qin Leng
Owlkids Books
ISBN 13: 978-1-77147-065-0

Penny Draper
Penny Draper Penny Draper lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She is the author of the award-winning “Disaster Strikes!” series, historical fiction that places young protagonists at the centre of real Canadian disasters.

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