Since I’m still helping my kids move house, I thought I’d stay on the subject of moving. The perfect picture book for today focuses on what happens after the move, or more specifically, on how one finds friends.
Written & Illustrated By: Aiko Ikegami
Publisher/date: Albert Whitman & Company/2016
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Moving, making new friends, differences
Opening: “One day…a new student came. She was different. And alone.”
Brief Synopsis: A student who arrives at a new school is different and eats alone until, one by one, friends join her.
Links to Resources:
- Have a picnic and invite your friends, including animal friends
- Compare pictures of yourself and a friend, a sibling, or a child from another place. How are you different? How are you the same?
Why I Like this Book:
With its sparse language and gorgeous watercolour illustrations, Friends spreads the simple message that even as we are different, shared experiences, like food eaten together or games played, unite us.
A Note about Craft:
Friends is a perfect example of how “less is more.” The text consists of 60 words – only 60 words, including a few phrases that are repeated. No one is named, nor do we even know the origin of the new student who arrives. In short sentences that are more phrases than sentences, and using simple words (came, play, stay, eat), the author/illustrator helps us feel the newcomer’s sadness, her feeling of difference and longing for a friend with whom she can eat and play. As writers, we constantly are admonished to leave room for the illustrator. Friends is a perfect mentor text of how to do so from the very talented illustrator/author Aiko Ikegami. This is Ms. Ikegami’s first English-language picture book.
When reading Friends, I also was reminded of a comment by PiBoIdMo-founder Tara Lazar that she didn’t know what species Norman in Normal Norman was when she wrote the story. Likewise, the friends here could be anything – and are!