I couldn't choose just one book today. So, I decided to write a post on my favorite recent picture books about friends. They all contain an unusual twist and/or some unusual friends. Each book highlights an aspect of friendship - time, manners, inclusion, and trust. I hope you find a few new favorite friendship books.
The first is a treasure both in the text and illustrations. The Sloth Who Slowed Us Down by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Vivienne To, is about a super fast family that befriends a sloth. Opposites do attract! When "the speediest family in the west" welcomes a sloth into their family, his innate slowness offers them the opportunity to discover things about themselves, each other, and nature. Then, a bit like Mary Poppins, he tackled the fast family next door. The matter-of-fact treatment of a biracial family, with a professional (architect?) mother, is a very welcome illustration addition. Take the time to slowly examine the beautiful pallet of debut artist Vivienne and find the gems she hid in her illustrations.
The next friendship story will be a riot to read to children. The title is the monster's refrain throughout the story - one that children will easily pick up and happily shout. In Eat Pete! written and illustrated by Michael Rex, a young boy is excited for the possibility of a friend when a monster appears at his window. But the monster has one thing on his mind (cue the refrain). However, playing with cars, pretending to be pirates, and stacking blocks with Pete is too fun for the monster to pass up. When the monster finally gives in to his urge, he discovers a truth about friendship. The monster's faces are delightful, and the illustrations nicely complement text.
This leads so well into the side-splitting, hysterical We Don't Eat Our Classmates written and illustrated by Ryan T. Higgins. If you liked Mother Bruce, you'll adore this book. Preschool can be tough for kids, especially if you're a little dinosaur. Penelope Rex has a hard time making friends with the other kids. Likely because it is so hard not to eat them. But when the shoe ends up on the other foot, and someone tries to eat Penelope, she gains an appreciation of what it takes to make and be a friend. All the tongue and cheek aside, and there is lots of it, Ryan has created a wonderful book for helping young children start to see outside themselves and begin to empathize with others.
*[I would pair this book with Trudy Ludwig's Invisible Boy (2013) and Salina Yoon's Be a Friend - to relate this idea to themselves and Cori Doerrfeld's The Rabbit Listened (2018) - to highlight that sometimes friends just listen. All three books have previously reviewed for #PPBF.]*
Another delightful friendship book is Hedgehog Needs a Hug written and illustrated by Jen Betton. When Hedgehog wakes "droopy in the prickles," he knows a hug is the cure. Unfortunately, none of the other animals accept his attempts for a hug. Except for the fox. After escaping, Hedgehog discovers someone else no one wants to hug. Overcoming their initial fears, Hedgehog and his new friend finally share a hug and perhaps the beginning of a long friendship. Jen's watercolor woodland scenes are a treat in and of themselves. A great book for helping kids look past differences and grumpinees (or outright prickles) in each other and discover some amazing friendships.
*[I would pair this with Rescue and Jessica: A Life Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon - for a nonfiction story of two unusual individuals that needed each other, who built an amazing friendship.]*
And finally, one I reviewed here, but which deserves to be in this list. Because the friendship between a stuffed friend (or imaginary one) and a child is just as strong and important as their other friendships. Brave Enough for Two, written and illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss, explores the give and take within a friendship. The discovery of bravery within one's self when a friend is in need.
*[I would team this with Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (of course) and Penguin and Pinecone written and illustrated by Salina Yoon - both of which highlight the give and take required in a friendship.]*
- write or draw your own story about two unusual friends;
- make a new friend, maybe someone who seems alone (friendship games -https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/friendship-activities#1);
- create a friendship bench at your school; and
- teacher's guide (K-5) (http://www.goodcharacter.com/YCC/BeingFriends.html).