cover image Friends!


Elaine Scott. Atheneum Books, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82105-9

Carefully constructed, this exploration of the dynamics of friendship will likely be most useful when read with an adult. Scott (Twins!) interlaces brief descriptive passages (""Friends trust each other and accept each other just the way they are"") and questions (""How have you and your friends solved disagreements?"") with staged scenarios--children helping each other on their inline skates, squabbling over a board game and choosing which movie to see, as well as resolving stickier situations such as one friend wanting to copy another's homework. Scott outlines the situations in straightforward, lucid text and Miller (Where Does It Go?) stages them in clear, colorful photographs featuring a multicultural cast. But the overall note of artificiality may undermine its appeal to children; there's no spontaneity here. The backyard, bedroom and poolside settings, though varied, look sterile (and tidy) enough to seem like so much window dressing, and the subjects evoke the self-conscious cheerfulness of catalogue models. Still, this is a solid choice for a discussion-starter on some of the more challenging aspects of making and keeping friends. Ages 5-8. (May)