cover image I Don’t Care

I Don’t Care

Julie Fogliano, illus. by Molly Idle and Juana Martinez-Neal. Holiday House/Porter, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4345-1

Accompanying fervent text by Fogliano (My Best Friend) that tumbles forth in a burst of confessions, friends Idle (Witch Hazel) and Martinez-Neal (A Perfect Fit) team up to create a visual story about friendship. “I really don’t care what you think of my hair/ or my eyes or my toes or my nose,” begin rhyming lines, running through an ample list of attributes that the book seems to portray as superficialities. With soft graphite strokes and linocut highlights in teal and yellow, the illustrators draw two young children, portrayed with skin the color of the paper, who each sport blunt-cut hair and sturdy boots. They’re leaning against the same tree, arms crossed, looking studiously away from each other. With every line, though, their hard feelings thaw, and they’re soon playing together on the page, as the litany turns from “don’t”s to “do”s and each speaker voices what’s at stake in their friendship: “I really do care/ that you always play fair/ and you don’t change the rules/ when I’m winning.” While not every reader will be comfortable with a friend who offers sidelong critiques (“I really don’t care if your lunches smell weird”), the alternating speakers’ loyalty (“and I care that we’re friends/ and I care that we’re true”), and images of shared experience following conflict, add warmth to this testament to faithful companionship. Ages 3–6. Agents: (for Fogliano and Idle) Steven Malk, Writers House; (for Martinez-Neal) Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Nov.)