xo, ox

So I'm a word-o-phile.  Is that a word?  I'm not sure.  But ever since I was young, I loved looking at the combination of words.  I loved scribbling a bit of this and that, maybe what I would now call free verse in my notebook.  And sometimes the phrases wouldn't make sense, but I loved what the words sounded like next to each other.

Early on in my writing life, I experimented a lot with words. I know I ticked off more than a few of my Creative Writing colleagues in college because they couldn't make heads or tails of some of my stories.  But I learned a lot.  And I was enjoying myself.  I might cringe if I read some of my early work now, but I stand by my words.  Because they are mine, and they meant something to me at the time.

So, suffice it to say that I like palindromes.  What's a palindrome?  Something that reads the same forward and backward.  Like xo, ox by Adam Rex and illustrated by Scott Campbell (published January 2017).  

I'd seen copies of this picture book here and there on the internet and also in real life for quite some time.  I was intrigued.  And ever since I finally purchased it at our school book fair, it's been my current favorite picture book.  It may stay in the top five of all time.

Why?  Because Ox is my hero.  He's quirky and perseveres and he's a romantic at heart.  And though he idolizes and idealizes Gazelle, he still recognizes her faults.  And loves her despite them. 

xo, ox is a perfect little unexpected love story that made me laugh out loud again and again.  I'm not quite sure how to review it without spoiling it. But I recommend this picture book wholeheartedly.  And not just because I love letters as much as I love words.

On top of that, Scott's Campbell's quirky renditions of Ox and Gazelle are beautifully done in water color.  Ox is adorable, and Gazelle is, well, a little full of herself, but so well-executed.  Campbell is able to get the action and emotion of the story depicted with great effect. Another one to love from Campbell, who also illustrated (and wrote)  Hug Machine.

Mini Me's Ostrich reading one of Ox's letters to Gazelle.

Mini Me's Ostrich reading one of Ox's letters to Gazelle.

{SPOILER SECTION-feel free to skip!}: Since I also read YA books (and may or may not have been known to read fanfiction of certain fandoms), I equate Gazelle to a bit of a narcissistic protagonist, who gets put in her place by an unassuming and humble Ox(who might alternatively be seen as a stalker or super fan).  The resolution occurs off the page--as in we assume they meet and find things in common when you compare the lovely end pages.  And, you may note that Gazelle is only looking at herself in mirrors in the opening end pages, whereas she starts to find other interests with Ox at the end.  If this were a YA or adult love story--dare I say the word romance?!--then I might have felt unsatisfied at the ending.  However, since this is a picture book, I found the plot and execution spot-on and giggle-monster funny.

Ages: Three-to-Four-year-old romantics on up. Cynics might like it too, though it may break their facade. 

**** Rating: From now on, I've decided to stop doing book 'reviews' and only write book 'recommendations'.  I've been reading a lot this year and don't want to review a book half-heartedly.  So from now on (well, starting with Real Friends, really), you'll note that I've changed categories from 'Book Review' to "Dr. Bookworm Book Rec".  Because life is too short.

Read-ability: This one is definitely one to read out loud, especially on the first pass.  Maybe I'm biased but when I first read the book, I was reading it out loud to my three favorite people.  And all four of us were giggling like crazy.  So read this one OUT LOUD and over and over again.  This is definitely a dog-eared book.

Tell Dr. Bookworm!

Tell me: what is your favorite letter in literature?  Or do you have a good letter that you've received? Answer in a comment below.

My current favorite letter is Captain Wentworth's letter to Anne at the end of Persuasion by Jane Austen.  SWOON!

Mini Me's Ostrich contemplating who to write a letter to.  PLOP (Plump Little Ostrich Pal) is using Papersource stationery and was inspired by Ox from xo, ox by Adam Rex.  This school desk is one of several handmade by Mr. Bookworm's parents.  #notanad #butwelovePLOP and #squishables.

Mini Me's Ostrich contemplating who to write a letter to.  PLOP (Plump Little Ostrich Pal) is using Papersource stationery and was inspired by Ox from xo, ox by Adam Rex.  This school desk is one of several handmade by Mr. Bookworm's parents.  #notanad #butwelovePLOP and #squishables.

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