Two friends navigate the tricky waters of including a third into their duo.
The bear pals from You Are (Not) Small (2014) and its successors are back, learning another childhood lesson. This time they are figuring out friendship skills. The large brown bear and small purple bear stand next to a toy chest stuffed with infinite possibilities. But a blue rabbit stops them in their tracks by asking the ultimate vulnerable question: “Can I play with you?” The big brown bear doesn’t hesitate: “Yes!” But the small purple bear isn’t sure: “Well….” The rabbit and the larger bear happen to be wearing matching bowler hats, and they grab some canes and launch into a tap-dance sequence, with the tiny purple bear (in a pith helmet) huffing to catch up. But then the situation is upended, with the rabbit (now also in a pith helmet) and the tinier ursine friend building a jeep out of blocks. The large brown bear tries to squeeze in, but it’s only a two-seater. No matter what they try to play, there always seems to be one friend left out. Tears ensue, but a clarification of “best” and “new” friend solves the dilemma. Kang and Weyant’s childcentric sensibilities are funny and empathetic. Humorous expressions and comedic timing lighten the rejection and anger oft stemming from young group dynamics.
This friendship will likely face many more tests, but these pals are stronger because of this one. (Picture book. 3-6)