cover image I'm Sorry

I'm Sorry

Sam McBratney. HarperCollins, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-028686-6

McBratney (Guess How Much I Love You) explores the ups and downs of friendship in this ambiguously resolved picture book. He begins with forthright prose (""I have a friend I love the best. She plays at my house every day, or else I play at hers""), describing a camaraderie most children can relate to, but the book stumbles when things go wrong for the two pals. Unlike the more focused approach in his other books, McBratney doesn't explain the rift nor does he end with the resolution implied by the title. Instead, the book concludes on a hypothetical note that may confuse children: ""If my friend were as sad as I am sad, this is what she would do: She would come and say, `I'm sorry,' and I would say sorry, too."" The artwork, however, does depict the promise of reconciliation in the air. In a series of nostalgic and softly shaded realistic portraits, Eachus (The Big Sea) gives a wider scope to the simple text, elaborating on such unadorned remarks as ""She plays at my house every day"" with scenes of a boy and a girl examining a fish tank full of polliwogs and climbing over a gate in the yard. Even when rendering quintessential ""childhood"" moments (e.g., the rubber-booted pair ambling down a muddy lane), she manages to avoid the precious or overblown. Ages 3-7. (May)