cover image Big Friends

Big Friends

Linda Sarah, illus. by Benji Davies. Holt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-62779-330-8

In a story first published in the U.K. as On Sudden Hill, Birt and Etho have an idyllic friendship, their lives centered on pretend-play adventures that involve two cardboard boxes on a big hill. “Birt loves their two-by two rhythm,” writes Sarah (Mi and Museum City). But when a boy named Shu shows up with a box of his own, it’s too big a change for Birt, and he withdraws from the hill. With idiosyncratically named characters and simple but emotionally profound language, Sarah captures the joys and pain of a camaraderie that seems exquisitely perfect—until it isn’t. She wisely doesn’t lay blame on one individual, and she introduces the opportunity for a new “three-by-three rhythm” when Birt is wooed back into the fold with a new cardboard contraption. Davies (I Thought This Was a Bear Book) makes the story sing from beginning to end with lovely drawings that feel sturdy and resolutely optimistic, even when Birt is at his lowest. Surely, the images suggest, three boys with such powerful imaginations can work things out. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agency: Bright Agency. (Jan.)