cover image Places to Be

Places to Be

Mac Barnett, illus. by Renata Liwska. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-228621-5

Barnett (The Magic Word) can be laugh-out-loud funny, but this sweet-tempered ode to friendship tips its hat to gentler classics like A Hole Is to Dig. “Hurry up! We have places to be,” Barnett writes, as the two fuzzy bears race down a road on a bike and skateboard. From there, he unleashes a stream of emotions and states of being that offer a many-sided portrait of what friendships look like. “We have places to be careful,” he writes as Liwska (Waiting for Snow) pictures the bears walking and texting, one heading for an open manhole. “We have places to be bored” shows the same bear laid up in a leg cast (the other rides a Ferris wheel outside). Other cause-and-effect vignettes appear throughout, captured with warm humor in Liwska’s soft brush-and-ink artwork. Neither bear is braver or better than the other; sometimes one knows what to do, sometimes the other takes the lead. In this cozy readaloud, friends stay true to each other no matter what. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Apr.)