cover image You Can Be a Friend

You Can Be a Friend

Tony and Lauren Dungy, illus. by Ron Mazellan, Little Simon Inspirations, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-9771-9

Dungy (You Can Do It!) teams up with his wife for a story about friendship that stars the Dungy family itself. Daughter Jade is excited when new neighbors move in next door, especially because it looks like a girl her age is part of the family; even before meeting her, Jade plans to invite the newcomer to her birthday party at a water park. But when the Dungys bring cookies to greet their neighbors, Jade sees that the girl, Hannah, is confined to a wheelchair. Jade later shares her concerns with her parents ("[D]o I have to be Hannah's friend? She can't do any of the things that my friends and I do"), and her mother assures her that, "God made everyone, and we are all special in His eyes." After getting to know Hannah, Jade quickly befriends her, but she's still concerned that Hannah would be left out at the water park. Mazellan's lively, sun-soaked paintings realistically depict Jade's uncertainty in navigating a new social situation. Jade's independent decision to change her original plans for a greater good lends credence to this message-driven offering. Ages 4–7. (Jan.)