The Picture Book Buzz

Best Friend in the Whole Wide World - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF and Original Sketch Giveaway

The first friends of a child are magical. A special doll, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a puppet, a pet rock, a 'tolerant' pet, or even a stick. There's often such a strong attachment that a separation is a sure recipe for a HUGE meltdown or some ultra-creative ways to stay together. But what happens when such a friend is found, seemingly all alone, by someone else? This picture book sets up an internal battle between loneliness and empathy. And I get to give you a sneak peek!


Best Friend in the Whole Wide World


Author/Illustrator: Sandra Salsbury


Publisher: Peachtree (2021)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Friendship, compassion, loneliness, and doing the right thing.


Synopsis:

A lonely rabbit, a quiet pinecone, and their perfect bond are tested in this charming picture book about compassion and friendship from debut author-illustrator Sandra Salsbury.


“Who is the ‘Best Friend in the Whole World’? After reading this sweet, sensitive tale, children can decide for themselves.” —The New York Times


Roland lives a quiet life filled with books, music, and tea parties for one, but sometimes he feels rather lonely. When Roland finds the perfect companion in Milton (Good listener! Enjoys music! Also alone!), he is overjoyed. It’s okay that Milton is just a pine cone; they have so much in common. But clues start popping up in the woods, suggesting someone else might be missing their best pine cone friend. Roland must decide if it’s worth leaving someone else in their loneliness to keep Milton in his life.


In this sweet and moving picture book about loneliness, friendship, and compassion, debut author-illustrator Sandra Salsbury celebrates the transformative power of connection and the painful melancholy of loss. Endearingly classic illustrations bring a charming forest world to life.


Opening Lines:

Roland lived deep in the woods all by himself.


He had a quiet life of drawing,

and music,

and drinking tea.


What I LOVED about this book:

With sparse text and spot watercolor illustrations, Sandra Salsbury beautifully introduces Roland's quiet, solitary life and his favorite activities - time in the woods, drawing, music, and tea.

© Sandra Salsbury, 2021.


Except, that "sometimes he was lonely." On one of his walks, Roland runs into a very special pinecone. Roland discovers that the pinecone, whom he names Milton, loves all the same things he does. And everything is twice as fun when you do it with "the best friend in the whole world."

© Sandra Salsbury, 2021.


But one day, on a walk in the woods, Roland sees some posters - "Missing! POPKIN." He quickly dismisses them. After all, his friend's name is Milton and they met along the path, not "at the log by the lake." Besides Milton doesn't like the activities listed on the missing sign. Nope, Roland convinces himself, there is no way Milton is Popkin. Or does he? Continuing home, Roland spots 'missing' signs everywhere.

© Sandra Salsbury, 2021.

He tries to ignore them, to hide in his house. Salsbury deftly draws the reader through Roland's emotions as his worry increases, his loneliness returns, and eventually he begins to ponder if someone else was feeling lonely. Finally, filling a basket with their drawings, Roland takes Milton/Popkin to the cat who lives in the log by the lake. That night, the woods seem to join Roland in his sad loneliness, as big raindrops streak across a dark double-page spread. And . . . you 'll have to read the book. This is a beautiful book where unselfish kindness and empathy are rewarded. It also has a whimsical touch of creativity as seen in Milton/Popkin's fellow pinecones on the end pages.


Resources:

- make your own pinecone friend. What would you name it? Make a list, write a story, or draw a picture of the

adventures or fun things the two of you would do? Or that you would do with a special friend you already have.

- what would make someone, or something, "the best friend on the whole world" for you?

- have you ever found something someone else has lost? What did you do? What would you do next time?

- read Found by Salina Yoon. Compare how Bear and Roland handle finding a special friend. Are the endings different or similar?


Original Sketch Giveaway

We are SO lucky - Sandra has created this special sketch of Roland for this giveaway. And there is NO geographic limitation! To be eligible, just leave a comment on this post or Sandra's interview post on Monday (here). Let me know if you share either post via social media (FB, Twitter, or Instagram) and I'll add more entries into the random drawing.


If you missed it, be sure to check out Monday's joint interview with Sandra Salsbury (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.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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