cover image Friends


Mies van Hout. Lemniscaat USA, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-9359-5423-1

Van Hout used wildly expressive fish to illustrate emotions in 2012’s Happy. Twelve pairs of equally exuberant monster friends do the job in this excellent companion book, each representing a verb. As in Happy, Van Hout’s scribbly, childlike creations are set against a pure black backdrop, letting his neon palette shine all the brighter. While different monsters appear on each spread, there is a clear emotional arc. The word “play” opens the book, as a yellow doglike creature in a sweater and a turquoise horned monkey smile giddily at each other. “Bore” on the next page leads to “tease,” which begets “fight,” as two monsters bite and claw furiously at each other. Crying, embarrassment, and reconciliation bring the book to its satisfying conclusion. Van Hout expertly conveys the emotional peaks and valleys of each friendship; the monster’s eyes and expressions speak volumes, whether in the case of the small smile of a monster that mischievously pokes a much larger creature with a scorpion’s tail, or the quiet, regretful glances that two tiny beasties cast at each other, which say all there is to say about “hope.” Ages 2–up. (Apr.)