Tag Archives: Moving

PPBF – Friends Forever

I found today’s Perfect Picture Book at Dussman’s, a large German book store with a large foreign language section in the heart of Berlin, where I’m visiting my son who is studying abroad.

I traveled to Europe last Monday at the last-minute (and with no picture books in my luggage), to support him and several of his friends following the tragic, unexpected death of his close high school friend and former roommate.

While not about death or those dealing with the world-stage events besetting so many children, I believe today’s Perfect Picture Book is a touching reminder that loss, whatever its cause, has consequences, and that many rainy days elapse as we process our grief.

9783899557732Title: Friends Forever

Written By: Roald Kaldestad

Illustrated By: Bjørn Rune Lie

Translated By: Rosie Hedger

Publisher/date: Little Gestalten/2016 (originally published in Norse, Magikon Forlag/2014)

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes/Topics: loss, moving, friendship, grief

Opening:

Two hundred and sixty-nine rainy days. He watches the leaves as they float and fall from the trees like the pages of a calendar. Two hundred and sixty-nine days. And whenever it rains, he misses his best friend.

Brief Synopsis:

A young boy misses, and reminisces about, his best friend who has moved from his neighborhood, and comes to terms with the separation.

Links to Resources:

  • The Main Character and his friend have buried an object that was special to them. Have you ever buried or set something special in a secret hiding place with a friend?
  • Has one or more of your friends or relatives moved away, or have you moved from friends or relatives? How did you feel? If you felt particularly sad or lonely, what did you do to feel better?

Why I Like this Book:

Friends Forever is a child-centric exploration of loss and the process of grieving and surviving a separation. In the story, the unnamed male main character mourns the loss of his female best friend who has moved away. He thinks of her especially on the many rainy days, which he has counted since she left. As life moves on for his family, the boy continues to think, and dream about, his friend, reminiscing about shared moments and wondering about her new life. But as the skies clear, a new girl moves into the friend’s vacant home, and the reader feels hopeful as the main character views her as a possible new friend.

Although Friends Forever is about a European child in a two-parent home, I can envision children who have lost loved ones to death or separation, or who have experienced traumatic events or moves, to find comfort in the story, much of which happens in the forests where the friends had played together.

With its higher word count and muted color palette, Friends Forever has an older feel to it. Lie, a graphic designer by profession, incorporates a 1950s esthetic, even as he incorporates modern touches, such as the father working on his laptop. While one may question the jacket illustration, which, incidentally was not the original cover in the Norse edition (see below), it brought to my mind the Lost Boys of Peter Pan or the books of my own childhood filled with “western” adventures that, today, seem insensitive.

A Note about Craft:

At 48 pages, Friends Forever is longer than the typical American picture book, with a higher word count as well. American writers may, in fact, wonder that so many extra details and side stories are included. I think Kaldestad was trying to capture the main character’s mood and resignation by drawing out the text, something that I don’t believe the typical American publishers would allow.

Interestingly, the original title, To hundre og Sekstini dagar, or, “Two Hundred and Sixty-nine Days,” is a title that I don’t believe a US publisher would use for a picture book, and even the German publisher has changed it.

Friends Forever is told from the point of view of the child left behind. We learn, though, that the friend who has moved also misses him by the inclusion of packages she sends him.

For more images from Friends Forever, visit Lie’s website.

Friends Forever is available in the US and was reviewed by Kirkus in 2016.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Friends

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.

9780807525500_p0_v2_s192x300Title: 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!