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MAKING A FRIEND by Alison McGhee


by Alison McGhee & illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4169-8998-1
Publisher: Atheneum

The early-children’s-book feel of Rosenthal’s pencil-and-digital illustrations is what will first strike readers of McGhee’s rather morose celebration of the forever nature of friendship.

A young boy looks forward to winter’s snowy fun. When it finally arrives, he crafts the perfect snowman friend, complete with nose, mouth, eyes, arms and the bright-red ball cap taken from his own head. He labels him, “My Snowman.” But while it is obvious that the boy spends some time admiring the snowman, the wordless pages devoted to their relationship fail to develop it fully, and readers may be left wondering why he is so sad when spring melts his friend. Where is he? Intuiting concepts beyond his apparent years, the boy finds his friend in the falling water and rain, in the fog and frost (although it is never explained to young readers how this is scientifically so), proving that McGhee’s unsubtly stated message is true: “What you love will always be with you.” And when the seasons come full circle, the two are reacquainted. Rosenthal’s illustrations are blotches of color on a stark white background, echoing the wintry setting and the boy’s sorrow, as well as the sparseness of the slow-paced text.

This retro salute to friendship simply tries to be too much to be successful—it does not hold a candle to McGhee's prior works such as Someday or Little Boy, both illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (2007, 2008) (Picture book. 4-6)