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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
What What What?
by Arata Tendo
Age Range: 6-8
Young Pan is bursting with questions. He has an exuberancy for life; interested in everything that is going on and asking questions all the time in order to satisfy his curiosity. But sometimes people donít always like his questions, even getting a tad annoyed which Pan just finds confusing.
Fortunately, Panís inquisitiveness turns out to be a force for good when he discovers that what he mistook for Halloween makeup on a school friendís face wonít come off, so he decides to find out what is going on. His tenacious search for answers finally proves contagious resulting in the mobilisation of the entire community.
What What What? is a zany story underpinning a more serious message by Japanese author Arata Tendo, translated by David Boyd. Under the guise of a simple story of a child posing lots of questions there is a much deeper meaning which shows that ignorance is very often a choice and that there are many things in life which challenge us to take a second look. The expressive illustrations by Japanese artist Ryoji Arai have a child-like simplicity that fits perfectly with the story. Pan is an endearing, if at times annoying character to those he persistency questions, whose compassion shines through both the text and artwork.
At the back of the book there is an Authorís Note of how the book came into being and there is a note to the reader which helps to explain the Japanese title of What What What? and how it can be used in different ways which helps with the understanding of the story. Dōshita dōshita is a versatile question, the meaning of which depends on its context: Whatís Up? What happened? Whatís the matter? So What? Why? Dōshita is Panís constant refrain and the Japanese characters appear on almost every page.