Friends (Mostly)

Barbara M. Joosse, Author, Tomaso Milian, Illustrator
Barbara M. Joosse, illus. by Tomaso Milian, Greenwillow, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-088221-1
Library Binding - 32 pages - 978-0-06-088222-8
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Friendship does not have to be a 24/7 lovefest: that's the important lesson behind this sometimes preachy and visually unremarkable book. With the exception of some singsong odes to each other, most of the text takes the form of alternating monologues by BFFs Henry and Ruby ("Usually we're friends, but sometimes we're unfriends"), with each child alternatively singing joys of collaboration ("In circus, I'm the ringmaster and Ruby's the lion tamer), kvetching ("He told my secret... to a boy!" grouses Ruby after she shares her crush on a classmate with him), and worrying about the constancy of affections ("What if Ruby finds another best friend?"). Unfortunately, Joosse's (Roawr!) text relies a bit too heavily on the "kids say the darnedest things" mentality ("Yesterday, I had gruffly thoughts") and Milian, making his debut, contributes vignettes that show a wide range of emotions and activities, but don't quite escape the safe, frisky feeling of a well-meaning textbook. While the necessary ups and downs of friendship will be recognizable to readers, neither text nor art truly evokes the depth of emotions at play. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
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