cover image Lottie's New Friend

Lottie's New Friend

Petra Mathers. Atheneum Books, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82014-4

This tender, funny sequel to Lottie's New Beach Towel has all the charm and quirkiness of the original tale about this winsome chicken--and, because it has a more linear plot, it may prove even more accessible and appealing to children. This time Lottie's best friend, Herbie the duck, takes center stage. Arriving at Lottie's for his customary morning visit, Herbie is discomfited by the unexpected presence of Dodo, a new neighbor. Believing that Lottie prefers Dodo, Herbie entertains mildly vengeful fantasies (wishing Dodo would get seasick when they all take a boat ride; imagining that no one would care if he were dead) and starts acting out (blowing bubbles in his lemonade; donning a flimsy disguise in hopes that Dodo won't recognize him). However, while Lottie is out of town, it is up to Herbie to help Dodo out of a tight spot, and the emotional logjam is broken. Aided by a few well-chosen words from Dodo, Herbie realizes that his place in Lottie's heart is secure and that there is room enough for Dodo, too. Mathers offers a wise look at the often contrary and confusing dynamics of close friendships. Humor abounds in both the droll text and the tidily boxed art--particularly irresistible are images of the self-pitying Herbie in his ridiculously transparent false-nose-and-mustache getup and, in a fit of pique over Dodo's stylish new glasses, dramatically marching with eyes closed and arms outstretched, as if blind. Mathers's insights into friendship are lightly though surely delivered. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)