cover image Best Friends-ish (Audrey L and Audrey W #1)

Best Friends-ish (Audrey L and Audrey W #1)

Carter Higgins, illus. by Jennifer K. Mann. Chronicle, $14.99 (184p) ISBN 978-1-4521-8394-7

A rapport develops between two second graders in search of belonging in this crisply written chapter book debut, a series starter by Higgins (Circle Under Berry). Audrey Locke thought second grade would be “twice as fun as first,” but all the newness soon proves overwhelming, and she questions whether she can be best at anything. Complicating matters, her old pal Diego seems to have moved on to a different friend group. When a transfer student shows up with the same name, newly dubbed Audrey “L” is made Welcome Ambassador to Audrey “W.” Predictably, her efforts are not without mishap and embarrassment, and yet a “best friends-ish” camaraderie forms between the duo, who are clearly linked by their bigheartedness and sense of humor, not to mention a love of the color purple and alicorns (unicorns with wings). A minor crisis involving a hermit crab and a major meltdown by Audrey L add some easily resolved tension. Straightforward plotting emphasizes Audrey L’s emotional journey and the classroom dynamics, while sketchlike b&w illustrations by Mann (The Camping Trip) break up the chapters. The Audreys make a winsome pair, and Higgins’s empathic approach to storytelling promises more gentle hijinks as they navigate school and friendship. Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Oct.)