cover image Be a Friend

Be a Friend

Salina Yoon. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-61963-951-5

Yoon’s school-age hero, Dennis, is an aspiring mime whose closet is full of striped leotards and top hats like those worn by his idol, Marcel Marceau. Dennis declines to speak; for classroom show-and-tell, he mimes the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. He isn’t actively bullied, but he is lonely—“It was as if he were standing on the other side of a wall”—until he finds a girl named Joy, who responds to his miming with her own. In keeping with the theme, Yoon (Stormy Night) has made a visually quiet book, working in red, black, and white on brown craft paper. The objects Dennis mimes are traced with red dotted lines, like the imaginary boat he and Joy paddle happily together. While the story affirms the value of finding friends who accept each other as they are, the moralizing tone (“Dennis and Joy didn’t speak a word because friends don’t have to”) steers it into prescriptive, precious territory. Children unfamiliar with the art of mimeing may need some context-setting. Ages 3–6. [em]Agent: Jamie Weiss Chilton, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Jan.) [/em]