cover image My Friend Maggie

My Friend Maggie

Hannah E. Harrison. Dial, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-42916-6

Paula, a beaver, has been “friends forever” with Maggie, an elephant, but when Paula gets swept into the orbit of the class mean girl, Maggie’s faults become all too apparent. Maggie is “kind of clumsy,” Paula notes, and she “stinks at hide and seek” (which, given Harrison’s affectionately funny depiction of Maggie trying to hide behind a sapling, seems true enough). Paula clearly struggles with her betrayal of Maggie, and when Maggie stands up for her (because mean girls eventually turn on everyone), the friendship is restored. Harrison tells her story with touching and expert restraint, and her acrylic illustrations have a lovely old-fashioned feel that readers of her previous books will recognize. While some may wish that the words “I’m sorry” had passed from Paula’s lips at some point (though she does look regretful) or that Maggie wasn’t dependent on a single friend, Harrison’s images speak volumes about her characters’ guilt, embarrassment, and anger, particularly during a heartbreaking and all-too-believable lunchroom scene. As in Bernice Gets Carried Away, Harrison shows a deeply sympathetic understanding of the simultaneously fragile and powerful emotions of children. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. (Aug.) [/em]