Hello, everyone! Today’s book is XO, Ox: A Love Story by Adam Rex and Scott Campbell, an unconventional “love” story.
Ox loves how beautiful and graceful Gazelle is, so he writes her letter after letter declaring his devotion. Gazelle is conceited and egocentric, however, and treats him dismissively, then insultingly. Still, Ox persists, knowing that she could never love him but-
You know what, I’m going to stop there. This book is disturbing. Like, deeply disturbing. For a book that has “A Love Story,” in its title, this is a terrible message for children about what love is.
Ox is blindly persistent in his affection toward Gazelle, someone he claims to love, but has never met (therefore, he is attracted to her, NOT “in love”), writing her multiple letters despite Gazelle’s insistence that he stop doing so. Gazelle, a stuck-up diva trope, then insults his looks, hygiene, and intelligence (cruelly, I might add). Still, Ox does not leave her alone, inadvertently insulting her, which drives her into a tear-fueled rage. And this makes her… decide she DOES love him?! At least, I think, as the ending is vague and abrupt.
That is a terrifying message to send to children about love. “Don’t respect someone’s wishes when they repeatedly tell you ‘no'” and “If someone treats you like dirt, don’t give up, because they may someday love you,” are two dangerously old-fashioned notions that have no place in a children’s book about “love” published in 2017.
The book has nice illustrations, and JJ is fortunately young enough to not understand the implications of the plot, so take that for what it’s worth. I’m so bummed about this too, because we have adored Rex’s and Campbell’s individual work in the past. But I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that anyone read this to an impressionable child. See you tomorrow, with better tidings I hope.