MY BEST FRIEND, SOMETIMES

An emotionally honest take on the complexities of (childhood) friendship.

The first-person narrator (who has light-brown skin and voluminous wavy, brown hair) remains unnamed throughout the text but immediately names best friend Stephanie, a white girl, and the circumstances of their meeting. “ ‘If you give me a cookie,’ she said to me, ‘I’ll be your best friend,’ ” recounts the narrator. Accompanying art shows the children from behind; they are seated at a cafeteria table and separated by the gutter. Subsequent pages use layout to place them close together, sometimes in small, sequential illustrations depicting their varied activities and the sometimes-fraught dynamic that emerges from that initial, manipulative encounter. And then they are separated on facing pages again when the narrator confesses, “Stephanie and I like each other. And we don’t like each other. Both.” Words and pictures then examine the misunderstandings, unkindnesses, and tensions that can sometimes punctuate friendships, the exemplary use of layout and expressive illustration techniques continuing to support the poignantly real voice of the text. A reconciliation at the book’s end provides satisfaction without papering over the reality that this isn’t the last time these kids will need to mend fences.

A best best-friend book. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-57687-946-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: POW!

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

From the Food Group series

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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