Friday, February 14, 2020

Review - The Friendship Book

The Friendship Book
by Mary Lyn Ray
illustrated by Stephanie Graegin
Date: 2019
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

With charming art and poetry, this honest primer on friendship, and companion to The Thank You Book, captures the many ways friendships are formed and what it means to be a friend. Perfect for fans of I Like You and A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You.

Sometimes being friends begins all at once
And sometimes it takes a while to get acquainted
But then, as some small knowing grows,
You start feeling that feeling
That comes with having a friend—

Exploring the many shapes friendships take and how being a friend can be a gift in itself, this thoughtful and authentic primer on friendship invites readers to celebrate the wonders of companionship.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

From the outset, this seems like a sweet little book about friendship. And it is in some ways. But it really didn't work for me in others.

Much of the book is just explaining--in free verse--what friendship is. How we become friends. What we do in a friendship. And that's all fine. But the book lost me when it started talking about how rocks and hills can be our friends. That's the last thing a lonely kid wants to hear. Friendship requires give and take, and a certain amount of interaction. Can you interact with a rock? Technically, yes, but not in the way most lonely people are craving. A rock can't talk. Just because sitting quietly and being there for another person can be a feature of human friendship doesn't mean that an inanimate object can be a friend.

The pictures kind of took me aback, too. There's this weird mix of humans and anthropomorphized animals, sometimes interacting with each other, sometimes just parallel to each other. It gives the book a bit of a surreal feel. I don't know if I really like it. (I don't mind anthropomorphized animals... but when they're mixed up with humans, it starts to fall apart a bit for me.) The illustration style itself is lovely, full of soft colours and cute critters. It's more the subject matter that's giving me pause.

Overall, I didn't love this. But I can see it finding an audience.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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