cover image Friends Stick Together

Friends Stick Together

Hannah E. Harrison. Dial, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-18665-3

Rupert is a solitary rhinoceros with cerebral tastes: “I like reading dictionaries, listening to classical overtures, and eating cucumber sandwiches with no crust.” Then Levi, a rambunctious tickbird, takes up residence on Rupert’s nose—a textbook symbiotic relationship. Levi is loud, loves to burp, and makes gross jokes about how Rupert’s ticks taste like chicken. Rupert finally shakes Levi loose, but soon realizes how much he misses his companionship and tick-eating abilities (without him, Rupert is pretty itchy). Harrison (My Friend Maggie) uses her signature visual elegance to provide an effective counterpart to her smartly observed stories of kid life. Rupert’s embarrassment and misery are visceral, and his preferred vest-and-tie combos speak volumes about his buttoned-up personality, just as Levi’s tank tops and shorts do. If this story is less satisfying than its predecessors, it’s because Rupert seems more willing to adapt to Levi than the other way around; the common ground the friends find is essentially on Levi’s terms. If this is symbiosis, it’s a lopsided version. Ages 4–8. Agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Apr.)