cover image Friends: Stories About New Friends, Old Friends, and Unexpectedly True Friends

Friends: Stories About New Friends, Old Friends, and Unexpectedly True Friends

, . . Scholastic, $16.95 (195pp) ISBN 978-0-439-72991-8

The definitions of friendship expressed in this collection of 11 short stories are as varied as the heroines and heroes introduced by well-established authors—including editors Martin (whose selection is an excerpt from A Dog's Life , reviewed above) and Levithan (Are We There Yet? , reviewed below). But nearly all of the protagonists share a burning need to find a kindred spirit. In two of the selections, new kids in town invent confidantes to ease the pain of loneliness. The narrator of Jennifer L. Holm's "My Best Friend" relies on an imaginary girl named Alexandra for companionship at her new home in Florida until she meets an elderly neighbor who admits she talks to an alligator. Patrick Jennings's hero is content spending time with a made-up "pixie friend" named Flit until the boy realizes that Flit is preventing him from making other friends. Other stories explore more traditional peer relationships: accidental and unlikely friendships, bonds that turn sour and animosities that turn sweet, as in Pam Muñoz Ryan's (Nacho and Lolita , reviewed above) "The Friend Who Changed My Life" when a new fifth-grader links up with the bully who torments her. Tanuja Desai Hidier's story traces a blossoming friendship at the dawn of India's liberation. One of the most thought-provoking selections closes the anthology, as the now-grown narrator of Virginia Euwer Wolff's "Doll" reflects upon her motives for impulsively showing kindness towards a shunned first-grade classmate. Offering a wide realm of moods, outcomes and morals, these stories are perfect for sharing with friends. Ages 9-12. (Aug.)

FYI: Proceeds from the sale of this book go to the Lisa Libraries, a nonprofit organization that donates new children's books to organizations serving needy children.