Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HENRY AND BEA by Jessixa Bagley


by Jessixa Bagley ; illustrated by Jessixa Bagley

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4284-3
Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Henry stops speaking to his best friend, Bea, but Bea is still there for him when he needs a friend.

Henry and Bea understand each other, and that’s why they are best friends. They always have fun together and are pictured reading inside a tent, playing hide-and-seek, sharing a cookie, and watching the clouds. Then one day, Henry seems “quiet and sad.” He wants to be alone, and even an announcement about a field trip to a farm doesn’t make him excited. At the farm, though, Bea gently offers her company to Henry. Finally, when they are alone, Henry reveals that his beloved cat died. Bea sits with him as he cries and helps him say goodbye to his friend. When they rejoin the group in order to take shelter from a storm, Bea implicitly understands that she shouldn’t tell anyone about what he shared. On the final picture, a rainbow peeks through the storm clouds as the friends share cookies once more. Bagley’s artwork creates an emotionally resonant experience, with the use of white space, perspective, and the expanse of the double-page spread to communicate emotional closeness, distance, and isolation. Readers will be invested in this simple, elegantly told tale and will not be disappointed at its conclusion. Henry is white, Bea is brown, and their classmates are fairly diverse.

An excellent choice for themes of friendship and trust. (Picture book. 4-8)