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The Picture Book Buzz

Brave Enough for Two - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

At some point in our lives, I think everyone has a moment or two of uncertainty and fear. When taking that next step feels like swimming through mud. But when a friend, family member, or even a stranger needs help, we often find we are braver than we think. When it really counts, we can do amazing things.

This is just such a story, where a fearful, hesitant young girl discovers how brave she actually is when her very best friend is injured. A beautiful, tender friendship story.

Brave Enough for Two

Author/Illustrator: Jonathan D. Voss

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (2018)

Ages: 4-8 years



Friendship, taking chances, and adventure

Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):

In the spirit of Goodnight Moon and The Night Gardener comes a heartwarming picture book about friendship that is sure to become a classic from debut author-illustrator Jonathan D. Voss.

Olive is a little girl who likes the types of adventures that exist in books. Her best friend Hoot, a stuffed-animal owl, prefers the ones that take place in the real world. Today, Hoot gets to pick the adventures. At first, Olive isn't sure if she's brave enough for the activities Hoot has picked: flying a makeshift hot-air balloon and navigating raging rivers. But when her dearest friend gets hurt, Olive discovers that she's not only brave, she's brave enough for two.

Told with whimsical text and filled with bold, captivating illustrations, Brave Enough for Two is the story of a little girl, her stuffed-animal owl, and their loving friendship.

Opening Lines:

Hoot was Olive's very best friend in the whole wide world. But as you know, best friends don't always like the same things. Take for example, adventures. Olive preferred the kind found in books. Hoot on the other hand - well, he preferred something a little different.

Why I liked the book:

Ingeniously written, and illustrated, this book reminded me of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories. The friendship between Olive and Hoot felt a lot like what existed between Christopher Robin and Pooh or Pooh and Piglet. I love the refrain, uttered first by Hoot and later by Olive, "I will be brave enough for both of us." Be sure to check out Jonathan's interview (here) for his take on this similarity.

Text and image © Jonathan D. Voss, 2018.

Olive's love of "bookish adventures" is beautifully illustrated in the opening scene, with Olive and Hoot snuggled together reading. While the balloon mobile and the ship painting, offer the reader a hint (especially on a second read) of the adventures that Hoot is anxious to pursue.

Text and image © Jonathan D. Voss, 2018.

Unsatisfied with just reading about adventures, Hoot builds a balloon ride and encourages Olive to join him on an adventure. When a thunderstorm overtakes them and Olive worries about being lost, Hoot replies, "We can never be lost . . . so long as I'm here and you're there, and here and there aren't very far apart." Another beautiful refrain echoed later by Olive.

After Hoot unties the balloons, landing them safely, he turns the basket into a boat and encourages Olive to ride along. As the ride becomes a "bubbling cauldron of rocks and waves," Hoot promises, "I'll keep you safe." However, Hoot's bravery disappears, when he is injured, and a piece of his stuffing falls out.

Text and image © Jonathan D. Voss, 2018.

Worried for her friend Olive echoes Hoot's earlier comment, " I will be brave enough for both of us." And gathering her confidence, she leads the way home. To see how Jonathan intertwines the other two refrains and wraps up this touching friendship, you'll have to read the book. Be sure to look for the boat in the final pages.

In addition to the gorgeous watercolor illustrations, Jonathan used an occasional half-page sepia-toned pencil drawing to accompany the narrative, often as a pause between the action. Overall, this is a delightful story, reminiscent of Christopher and Pooh, of the give and take in a friendship between a girl and her very best friend, Hoot.


- build a mini balloon ride for a stuffed/toy friend;

- build a paper boat (or plastic boat) and sail it in a stream, lake, or bathtub;

- help a friend try something new or challenging; or

- write a story or draw a picture about an adventure you have had, or wish to have, with a friend.

If you missed it, Jonathan D. Voss stopped by to talk about writing, illustrating, and the inspiration for Brave Enough for Two, this Monday (here).

This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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