From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–Mary and Clare spend their days at preschool together. They hug when they meet, hold hands while going out to the playground, and sit next to one another at storytime. All goes smoothly until the day of Mary's birthday, when she gets special privileges and much attention from the teacher and other students. Clare grows resentful and starts an argument, which ends with both girls angrily yelling, YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND! They each play with other children and have time to cool off. When naptime is over, Clare presents her friend with a hand-drawn picture and wishes her a Happy birthday. Mary graciously accepts the gift, an unspoken apology, and the two are friends once again. No adult guides them toward reconciliation; these children simply figure out for themselves what is important. Various printmaking techniques are used in the artwork to create bold, flat shapes, with enough white space to allow the colors to pop off the pages. The illustrations, in a warm palette, give a retro feel to the story but the multicultural classroom takes the tale to the present. This is a story of true friendship that is stronger than envy or jealousy.–Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI
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*Starred Review* PreS-K. In spot-on words and crisp, gaily patterned prints, the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Book Ella Sarah Gets Dressed (2004) captures the unselfconscious affection and quicksilver shifts in mood that characterize preschool friendships. Classmates Clare and Mary hug hello, sit together at storytime, and hold hands when they go outside to play. But when Mary's birthday merits queen-for-a-day treatment, Clare vents her jealousy by informing her pink-clad friend that "yellow is prettier." The argument explodes in double-page spreads that zoom close to the girls' furious profiles, culminating in a bitter outburst: "YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND!" After time apart, a nap, and a birthday card lovingly crayoned in both girls' favorite colors, the children reestablish their "best best BEST" bond. Like Molly Bang's When Sophie Gets Angry--Really, Really Angry (1999), this shows children working through conflict without adult intervention, and the message is further buoyed by a cozy classroom backdrop that will prompt chatter about kids' own preschool routines. A perfect choice for supporting the socialization aims of the earliest years of school, when instincts about generosity, empathy, and loyalty begin to balance the egocentric impulses of babyhood. Jennifer Mattson
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