A little girl from far away starts her first day at school, but she doesn’t fit in.
She wants one friend to keep her company at lunchtime. Then one day, her delicious food attracts the attention of a squirrel, to whom she offers an ear of corn. They eat and play together, attracting the attention of a rabbit, who is invited by the squirrel to join them the next day. The rabbit then invites a raccoon, who invites another little girl. Soon, everyone is sharing and playing together. When a new student comes from even further away, he is warmly welcomed—and other new arrivals watch them hopefully. Ikegami uses a soft, fuzzy illustration style, relying on color to set the mood. She starts with icy white, warming up as she goes, and by the time the children and animals are eating and playing together, readers are treated to double-page spreads full of rich color. The words are sparse, with the repeated phrase "One day..." highlighting turning points, but the illustrations do most of the work of explaining first the girl's isolation and then the joy of being a part of the group. The protagonist eats with chopsticks and has long, brown hair; her classmates exhibit a variety of skin tones and hair colors and textures.
The message of inclusion is often seen in picture books, but sharing food to make friends is a gentle suggestion that may help children starting school or meeting new arrivals with a language barrier. (Picture book. 4-8)