cover image Making a Friend

Making a Friend

Alison McGhee, illus. by Marc Rosenthal. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8998-1

McGhee takes up an ethereal subject: longing for absent loved ones. A boy builds—and happily befriends—a snowman, which later melts in a spring thaw. “Where did you go?” the boy wonders. “Look,” writes McGhee (Someday), as the seasons shift and the boy pours a bucket of water into a pond. “He is in the falling water, and the rain upon the ocean.” Rosenthal’s (I Must Have Bobo!) boxy houses and rural scenes speak of simpler times, and the soft, sepia outlines of his pencil drawings look like old lithographs. Visual hints of the snowman’s lingering presence—ripples in the pond echo his charcoal facial features—underscore McGhee’s message. (And just in case readers miss it, it’s also spelled out in a refrain, “What you love will always be with you.”) The success of the book is in the gentle rhythm created by McGhee’s telegraphic text and Rosenthal’s spot illustrations, and in its evocation of the long waits of childhood, so difficult for the young to endure. All ages. (Oct.)