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Plus One - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF:

I adore John Hare's wordless adventures to the moon, the ocean floor, and a volcano! They are inventive, imaginative, full of hidden treasures, and foreshadowing. And just pure fun. This book combines the fun of his wordless illustrations with a succinct and wry text. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Book cover - girl sipping tea and glancing at a portion of a very unusual  tea party guest.

Plus One

Author/Illustrator: John Hare

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books

Ages: 4-8

Fiction


Themes:

Friendship, acceptance, tea parties and humor.


Synopsis:

Agnes is new to town and wants to make friends, so she invites some girls in her class to a fancy tea party. When there is a knock at the door, she expects to see them—not Dave from next door. This isn't what she had in mind at all. . .


"The invitation says plus one.

This means you need to bring a friend.

And since you don't have a friend with you—goodbye."


Agnes is sure that will be the end of that, but Dave is persistent, and before long he's bringing one friend after another as his plus one. Pierre of the North, Esquire, a goose who Agnes deems too loud; Fred, a cactus that's too prickly; Dr. Scalywiggles, a legless lizard she mistakes for a snake; even his mom, who makes great French toast and lets him win at tag. Alas, no grownups are allowed at this tea party.


But as the minutes pass and the other guests don't show up, Agnes is left with nothing but her tea set, watching Dave and his friends play tag. She works up the nerve to ask if she can join in and receives a resounding yes— and when the original guests arrive (late because of soccer practice) everyone heads inside for tea, no species excluded.


In this fun and funny tale, John Hare, author and illustrator of Field Trip to the Moon, Field Trip to the Ocean Deep, and Field Trip to Volcano Island, uses his signature wit and buoyant illustrations to share the timeless message that sometimes new friends turn out to be someone unexpected.


Opening Lines:

Agnus was new to town and wanted to make friends, so

she invited some girls in her class to a fancy tea party.


What I LOVED about this book: I adore all the wordless spreads in this book! As Agnes excitedly runs for the bus, convinced the girls she invited will come to her party, the reader notices the coach's reaction and Dave's discovery. A perfect vignette allows the reader to see the invitation and beautifully foreshadow events to come. John Hare's books are always such an illustrative delight!

Internal spread - on left a girl rushes to the bus, while girls look at invitations handed to them and boy picks up dropped invitation. On the right, boy reads "You (Plus One) are invited to a fancy Tea Party invitation to a party today at 4:00. 417 Elm.""

Text & Image © John Hare, 2024.

Agnes immediately prepares for her party. The lower inset image gorgeously captures a child's "dress-up" tea party. From the oversized shoes, laundry basket seat, and mismatched and 'kid-sized' chairs, to her blue bear at the head of the table. I love how the almost full-page spread also shows Dave's house right next door.

Internal spread - On left, girl going into her house, with a "U-Home" truck in the driveway. On upper right, boy headed to his house (next door), as school bus drives on. Lower right, girl (in over large heeled shoes and a dress) begins to set up for her tea party.

Text & Image © John Hare, 2024.


Excited by a knock on the door at four, Agnes discovers Dave, still dressed in a sleeveless t-shirt, shorts, & galoshes, but now sporting a tie. Agnes gruffly replies "The invitation says plus one . . . you don't have a friend with you - goodbye." Kids will have so much fun unpacking all the nuances and treats John wove throughout the colorful acrylic illustrations.


Determined, Dave returns repeatedly with a funny assortment of plus ones - “Pierre of the North, Esquire," prickly "Fred," and "Dr. Scalywiggles," but Agnes rejects them all. Meanwhile, in a series of progressive scenes, in the lower right (matching the above spread), we watch Agnes finish setting the table, pour tea, and miserably nibble some cookies. Until Dave finally arrives with Captain Rufus and Admiral Angie, protectors of the high seas . . .

Internal spread - on left boy presents girl with 2 puppies. Upper right, girl hugging puppies to her chest. Lower right, girl refusing the boy entry to the paarty.

Text & Image © John Hare, 2024.

"OOOOOO, puppies.

Come right in."


"Not you," said Agnes.


But even puppies can't win Dave entrance to the party. Though they do have a surprise Agnes wasn't expecting! Poignant wordless illustrations reveal Agnes' growing sadness. Nothing was happening as she wanted. Alone with her bear, Agnes makes a discovery, which turns out to provide her with exactly what she needs. This is a wonderfully funny and touching book on friendship and a celebration of accepting everyone's differences.


Resources:

Collage images of 6 of 17 ideas for kids tead parties.

  • if you could choose anyone or any animal (live or stuffed) as a plus one for a tea party, who would you chose and why? What's the most unusual plus one you can think of? Make a list of your plus ones or draw a picture of you and your plus one at a tea party.


  • what could you do to help a new kid in your neighborhood, school, or activity make friends?


If you missed the interview with John Hare on Monday, find it (here).


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

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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