A new student rouses jealousy in this third picture book in the Alycat series.
Alycat, a kitten, hopes she can sit next to one of her friends on a field trip bus ride, but her mother assures her that “You’ll have fun no matter who you sit with.” At school, there’s a new kitten student, Phoebe. Aly feels left out when Phoebe and Alycat’s friend Luna sit together on the bus and exchange friendship bracelets. At the clinic, Dr. Katz explains that the heart has outer, inner, and middle layers. This dubious physiological information inspires Aly to make three friendship bracelets. She gives Luna and Phoebe one each, keeping a third for herself, and Phoebe thanks her two new best friends for a wonderful first day. Bourque (Alycat and the Monday Blues, 2017, etc.) provides a practical solution for dealing with jealousy and welcoming newcomers. However, the message has some odd undertones; few adults would agree they’d have fun on a trip “no matter who [they] sit with,” for example, and Alycat’s bracelets could be seen as an instance of the constant emotional labor that’s expected of women. Also, as visible symbols, bracelets can be used to exclude as well as include. Returning illustrator Civati’s illustrations, though, give the book a charming retro feel. Bracelet-making instructions are included.
A well-intentioned but problematic tale.