cover image Very Best (Almost) Friends

Very Best (Almost) Friends

. Candlewick Press (MA), $12.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0475-2

The theme of this appealing, small-format volume of poems is friendship--both the blossoming and benighted varieties. Avoiding the overtly sentimental, veteran editor Janeczko (Wherever Home Begins) includes poems that celebrate the joy of that ""secret thread that makes us friends"" (Walter Dean Myers) as well as poems that express disappointment and yearning. Poems like Myra Cohn Livingston's ""Lonesome"" (""Lonesome all alone/ Listens for the phone"") and Kalli Dakos's ""Peter the Pain"" (""Move me to China,/ To France or to Spain./ Just get me away from Peter the Pain!"") are juxtaposed with poems about sweet intimacies, like Nikki Grimes's ""Summertime Sharing"" or Karla Kuskin's ""To You"" (""I think I could swim/ the skin shivering sea/ if you would accompany me""). For contrast, there's a particularly amusing series of poems embedded throughout; these include Colin McNaughton's ""Another Poem to Send to Your Worst Enemy,"" Jim Daniels's ""Blubber Lips"" and Janeczko's own ""If I Could Put a Curse on You"" (""May you get a pimple on your nose/ May you grow an extra pair of toes""). French illustrator Davenier (Leon and Albertine) offers pale watercolors that exhibit a skillful use of line and are particularly effective in depicting movement and body language. Whether she is portraying two girls convulsed with giggles or two boys hurling insults, she manages to capture the mood and spirit of each poem. A choice gift for new friends and old. Ages 8-up. (Jan.)