Title: XO, OX
Author: Adam Rex
Illustrator: Scott Campbell
Published: Roaring Brook Press, 2017
When I’m looking for new picture books to check out, I often visit the ‘top ten’ sites, Goodreads and a whole lot of parent/librarian/kid lit fan blogs. I can’t remember where I first heard about XO, OX, but I owe the author of that post/list a giant thank you.
It’s such a wonderful book. (My alllll time fave has changed throughout the years but is currently After the Fall by Dan Santat. I will save that review for a very special day. And, can I just add that Dan Santat is amazing and totally on my ‘if I could have lunch with famous people’ list. Because he is a genius.)
Back to this book. Author Adam Rex is someone I honestly hadn’t heard of until this very year. I’ve already reviewed two books of his (here and here) and I feel like I’ll end up reviewing a ton more. Because he is an extremely talented writer (and illustrator). Scott Campbell has also been featured on this blog (here) and his sweet illustrations make XO, OX absolutely perfect.
So…why is XO, OX so good? There are three reasons:
- The structure. The fact that Ox and Gazelle are corresponding via old-fashioned love/not-so-love letters is wonderful. The letters really give each character a strong and hilarious voice. Which means that…
- The characters are funny. Very funny. But they have depth. The way Ox bumbles along, pointing out the fact that near-perfect Gazelle may have a flaw or two (or several) is endearing. The way Gazelle brushes him off over and over, only to realize…
- She really loves him. Which is the ending and it is absolutely perfect. The sequence of pictures that depict Gazelle realizing the error of her ways and discovering the fact that she DOES love a clumsy Ox is incredibly emotional (yes, I tear up on the last page every time). The story ends with her addressing an honest, heartfelt letter to the Ox who has loved her through and through.
The letters are also a lot of fun to read aloud. I always do Ox’s voice as deep and kind of slow. He’s a sweet guy, but not a brain surgeon. Gazelle is French, sort of like Madame Gazelle from Peppa Pig. (But more stuck-up…imagine Miss Piggy and Madame Gazelle having a baby. Kind of like that.)
I read this book (again) to my ladies and they had this say:
Vivi: That book is so good. I love the ending.
Lily: I like the letters the Ox wrote. He was so nice.
Me: Was there anything you wanted to change? Anything you think could improve this story?
Vivi: Nope. A-plus.
If you’re looking for a terrific picture book, XO, OX fits the bill nicely.