Our theme this week is Friendship. I'm going to start with one book that I think is adorable: Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems. This is the sequel to Knuffle Bunny. In this book, Trixie takes her beloved Knuffle Bunny to school with her and realizes another little girl has a Knuffle Bunny too! They argue over whose Knuffle Bunny is better until the teacher puts the Knuffle Bunnies on timeout. At the end of the day, they each get a Knuffle Bunny back to take home. In the middle of the night, Trixie discovers that the Knuffle Bunny she has is NOT hers! She insists on making an exchange in the middle of the night. At the end of the book, the two little girls become good friends and play with both their Knuffle Bunnies together. It's a sweet tale and the pictures are animations over photographic backgrounds. Very cool! The first book is great as well, you should check out both of them. We have a couple beloved animlas in this household so these books really spoke to my daughters.
Another great picture book about friendship: Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Craig Hatkoff. Owen, a baby hippo is displaced during the Dec. 2004 Tsunami. People worked to save him, but it wasn't until he befriended Mzee, a 130-year old turtle that Owen became happy. He actually thought she was his mother. :-) The two adopted each other and do everything together. Their story was turned into a picture book after photos of them were passed around the email world, making them celebrities. Great story accompanied by photographs of the two friends. Also a nice way to show children that two friends do not have to be just like each other. Also check out the sequel: Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship; and board books: Owen & Mzee: Best Friends & Owen & Mzee: A Day Together.
I'm featuring three board books for younger children today, each from a series all three of us love.
Gossie & Gertie by Olivier Dunrea is the second book in a series that begins with Gossie. The story couldn't be simpler or more enchanting. Gossie and Gertie are best friends, and Gertie always follows Gossie around...until one day, she doesn't! The text is simple, with effortless rhyming and a readable rhythm, and lots of repetition for little ones. The message about friendship is sweet: Gossie doesn't get mad when Gertie decides not to follow her one day. The illustrations are simple line drawings with primary colors, and little details like beetles and turtles that really add to the scene. Gossie and Gertie's world is the barn and farmland, and Gossie and Gertie have fun with a variety of wholesome, non-video-game activities, always a bonus. Lilah requests these frequently: "Read ducky book!" (Gossie and Gertie look a lot like ducklings, and I have yet to convince Lilah they're not!)
Little Quack's New Friend by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Derek Anderson, is another fun toddler book. In this entry in the series, Little Ribbit, a small green frog, asks Little Quack and his siblings to play. Only Little Quack agrees to play with the newcomer; his brothers and sisters dismiss Little Ribbit as too green, too small, and a FROG. As they watch Little Quack and Little Ribbit have a great time, the siblings decide to join in, concluding that it doesn't matter how different Little Ribbit is, they "all like to play!" The sounds the friends make while playing ("plunka splunka" jumps to mind) complement the exuberant story and are really fun to read aloud. This is much more text-heavy than the Gossie books, but it keeps Lilah's interest (as do the others in the series) until the end. The illustrations are lush and bright; the scene is the ducks' pond, with reeds, mud, and lily pads, and the motion is depicted really well--these ducks and frog are clearly having a great time. The lesson is certainly not unique in children's literature, but it's done here with great exuberance and fun, so I would call this a stand-out.
The "How Do Dinosaurs...?" books by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague are cute, fun reads, with lilting rhymes and clear messages. How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? is no exception. Dinosaurs are surprisingly considerate, taking turns and sharing, and NOT moping or pouting. The illustrations are funny, with distinct dinosaur species represented as the children, and smaller humans as the parents. Each dinosaur species is written in the drawings for children who are getting dino-crazy. Lilah loves dinosaurs (she actually stomps around like a dinosaur when carrying a dino stuffed animal), but I imagine these books are great for parents of boys who may be less interested in sitting still to read. The message in this book is very simple: share, take turns, and be nice to your friends, but it's so fun to read and accompanied by such rich, detailed images of dinosaurs that children won't find it preachy.