Joe’s gift of matching hats, one pink, one purple, both sporting a heart design, heart tassels and pompoms, and reading “Best Friends” across the front, is pretty embarrassing. But is it worth throwing away a friendship?
The teasing starts subtly—a “Ha!” here, a “Hee, hee” there. But then Matt outright tells her, “Olive, you look silly in that hat!” Olive’s attempts to avoid wearing Joe’s gift also start subtly: She’s not sure it’s hat weather; she doesn’t want to lose it. But Joe reassures her it’s an all-occasion hat that “won’t ever fall off.” She even tries hiding, but she’s found. With more footsteps approaching, she just can’t take it and tries lots of ways to hide/rid herself of the hat. But they’re Joe’s footsteps, and she can’t hide the fact that his well-intended gift has been stuffed in the garbage. Feeling terrible, she wears a sandwich board advertising their friendship, trash-stained hat perched atop her head. Amid the others’ teasing, all is seemingly forgiven as the cat and turtle duo walk off the final page hand in hand, the back of Olive’s sandwich board reading, “And Matt is silly!” Freeman depicts his diverse animal cast against white backgrounds, allowing their facial expressions to speak volumes. But while readers will no doubt empathize with both Joe and Olive, the ending is too neat—there’s not even an apology.
The too-simple resolution and final act of revenge blunt the impact of the story’s message. (Picture book. 4-8)