Finding a friend is less a matter of sheer will than quiet acceptance in this charming new work.
Picture-book heroines are rarely quite as irrepressible as Lucy the tutu-and-bow–clad bear from Children Make Terrible Pets (2010). Now a follow-up tackles the difficult task precocious children face when seeking out companionship. Fueled more by enthusiasm than sense, Lucy informs her mother that on this day she is going to find herself a brand-new friend. Yet while her intentions are good, Lucy’s befriending techniques are a bit brash for the woodland creatures she encounters. Even threats don’t work, so Lucy declares her task hopeless, until another bow-wearing animal fulfills Lucy’s greatest wishes. Brown has pinpointed the problems some kids face in befriending their fellows, though few would come on as strong as his heroine. The language is the real lure here, with Lucy’s single-mindedness best illustrated when she informs an egg, “You WILL be my friend! I can wait.” Handlettered speech balloons and wood borders give the book a rustic but friendly feel, with endpapers that should not be missed.
While many friendship stories verge on twee, this title eschews the cute and allows kids to both identify with and pity Lucy’s struggle to find her own bosom companion. (Picture book. 4-8)