Title: Ask Me
Author: Bernard Waber
Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Audience: Pres. – Grade 2
Summary: A young girl and her father spend a lovely fall afternoon together, ambling through the meadows, woodlands, and playgrounds of a large park, all the while chatting about dozens of things the daughter’s favorite things.
Literary elements at work in the story: If there is a literary equivalent to biological symbiosis, then Ask Me is its poster child. Text and illustrations mutually benefit from one other and would be far less effective alone. The written narrative, essentially a long list of “things I like” by the young girl, is told completely in dialogue. Suzy Lee’s colored pencil illustrations add setting, characterization, plot, and tone with cartoon-like line drawings. Together they tell a gentle story of father/daughter love.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The two main characters in this story are depicted as Caucasian and middle class. There are a few other people in some of the illustrations, all of them white and all of them completely peripheral to the central story of one father and one daughter bound to one another in delight.
Theological Conversation Partners: “Ask me what I like,” instructs the young protagonist of Ask Me on the first page of the book. “What do you like?” her father obediently responds. What follows is a song of joyous shout-outs to the created world. Dogs, cats, frogs (both the swimming and hopping varieties), bugs, the color red, and “splishing, sploshing, and splooshing” in the rain are all things the little girl likes. In a culture where children are often fixated on trinkets and electronics, it is a pleasure to hear the joy of Genesis 1 and the delight of Psalm 136:1-9 echoed in the words of a young child. The father in this story does buy his daughter an ice cream cone in the park, and he promises not to forget that her birthday is coming up, but far more valuable is his gift of time and of paying attention. This dad takes such obvious pleasure in spending time with his child – from the long walk through the park to the final kiss good night – Ask Me models the kind of parenting that helps us to understand why some call God “Father.”
Faith Talk Questions:
- If you could take a walk anywhere in the world outdoors, where would it be?
- I’ll ask you the question the dad asked his little girl in this book: “What do you like?”
- Which of those things are creations made by God?
- What other question would you like for me to ask you?
- How can you tell from the pictures that the little girl and her father are happy?
- Why do you think they had such a good time in this story?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna and regular reviewer Beth Lyon-Suhring. Beth is the Director of Christian Education at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Suffolk, VA.
Ask Me by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.