Teasing tests the friendship of two young girls.
According to narrator Paula, Maggie and she have “been friends forever.” Proof of that assertion starts on the endpapers—a crayon drawing of the two friends—followed by illustrations that look like old-style photographs on the verso and title page. Whether smiling out from a class photo or pictured as infants, the two seem completely simpatico. But then bullying rears its ugly head. A classmate opines that Maggie is “too big.” Her size isn’t surprising: she’s an elephant. But that unkind comment leads Paula, a beaver, to re-evaluate her friend in an unfortunately stereotypical but all too believable way. Maggie is “clumsy,” terrible at hide-and-seek, and wears her clothes too tight. Harrison’s brightly colored acrylic paintings amplify the emotions, showing mean girl Veronica (a sleek terrier) with squinting eyes and smug smile and pushover Paula casting a regretful look back at Maggie. Harrison’s straightforward, first-person text, while understated, also conveys a wealth of emotion. The use of exclamation points, ellipses, and italics guides readers to give the words a distinctly conversational tone. Luckily for Paula, Maggie is bighearted enough to forgive her friend’s betrayal and strong enough to defend her when necessary.
Paula’s final declaration that “I’ll be her friend forever” shows that she’s learned a valuable lesson, one that listeners would do well to heed. (Picture book. 3-7)