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Be a Friend Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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From School Library Journal
PreS-K—A lonely little mime finds a friend in this charmingly illustrated work by the author of Found (2014) and Penguin and Pinecone (2012, both Bloomsbury). Beginning on the end pages, readers are introduced to the silent pantomime routines of Dennis, "an ordinary boy…who expressed himself in EXTRAORDINARY ways." Donning a black-and-white striped shirt with a pinned-on heart, an enormous black top hat, white gloves, and face paint, Dennis speaks not a single word (even in school), instead miming during show and tell. Later on the playground, while the other kids skip rope, climb trees, or play ball, Dennis pretends. But the miniature mime soon feels lonely and invisible, "as if he were standing on the other side of a wall." When an observant little girl catches his make-believe ball, the two discover that friends need not speak a word in order to communicate and connect. The themes of individuality and acceptance are familiar picture book territory; it's the art and design that truly shine in this work—in fact, the story can easily be interpreted by pre-readers through the pictures alone. In a departure from the black-lined and thickly applied paints she has used in previous books, here Yoon displays a light and graceful line, delicate penciled shadows, a subdued palette, and thoughtful visual touches. Cleverly, Yoon employs dashed red lines to show viewers the "invisible" objects Dennis uses in his performances, such as a rope, a box, and a bicycle. A spread with four vignettes, each contained in a vintage photo-style frame, lend the book a warm and nostalgic feel. VERDICT Delightful artwork buoys this quiet celebration of imagination, uniqueness, and friendship.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal
"Gorgeous and profoundly moving, Be A Friend was an instant favorite with me and daughter. Salina Yoon has created a picture book that my family will keep going back to time and again." - Nicola Yoon, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of EVERYTHING EVERYTHING
"Yoon, no stranger to odd-couple friendships . . . has changed tactics, creating a story about two people who just happen to see the world in a complementary way . . . Refreshingly, this story is not about overcoming shy or unusual behavior: no one ever makes Dennis speak, and no one teases him for the way he chooses to express himself. A sweet, visually striking story of friendship and acceptance." - starred review, Booklist
"This heartwarming book describes what it takes to be a friend . . . A wonderful book to use to encourage students to be themselves, to acknowledge that people are different, to introduce inferencing, to discuss disabilities, and to understand what it means to be a friend. Highly recommended." - School Library Connection
"It’s the art and design that truly shine in this work--in fact, the story can easily be interpreted by pre-readers through the pictures alone . . . Warm and nostalgic . . . Delightful artwork buoys this quiet celebration of imagination, uniqueness, and friendship." - School Library Journal
"A launchpad for discussions of individuality. Yoon's lively illustrations will encourage young readers to mime along with Dennis. Her use of red dotted lines to depict each pantomime will allow children to fill in the blanks using their imaginations. Adults will enjoy her eye for details, including a poster of Marcel Marceau in Dennis' wardrobe. A delightful story about the celebration of individuality and friendship." - Kirkus Reviews
"This comforting story successfully addresses the common fear of storms for a young audience . . . The storm's impact has no lasting power against a family's love." - School Library Journal on STORMY NIGHT
"A thoughtful, flawlessly executed exploration of theory of mind and emotional intelligence." - starred review, Publishers Weekly on FOUND