How to Help a Friend by Karl Newson, illustrated by Clara Anganuzzi. Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press, 2022. 9781536226676
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture book
What did you like about the book? How do we learn to help our friends when they are feeling down? One way is to be able to identify emotions. This heartfelt picture book shows all the ways a friend, or you, can feel, and the ways to help. A brown-skinned girl in teal blue overalls and many different animals demonstrate lots of ways to feel big feelings: some friends like to be alone; some like to talk about it; some like to read; some just want to laugh. Kids will be able to recognize many different ways of feeling feelings. Lilting rhyming text begs to be read aloud, and although there isn’t an arc to the story, their are plenty of lovingly illustrated settings and animals doing animal things or human things to point out and enjoy. There are squirrels in the trees, penguins on glaciers, porpoises swimming and singing, macaws flying over the girl and a polar bear in a rowboat gliding down a river. The artist clearly revels in portraying nature.
I like that the book validates that big feelings are not to be feared, and that a friend can help. And it is not lost on me that the child is brown skinned with an ample, rounded body. I love seeing different body shapes in children’s books. I especially liked this verse: “Some friends want to fly away. / Some friends want to hide. / Some friends might want someone else but appreciate you tried.” Kids will see that this is what friends do for each other.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Almost every verse starts with, “Some friends…” and I found it to be tiresome after a while, even though I loved the message.
To whom would you recommend this book? A lovely addition to story times on friendship, for ages 4-8.
Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Near the top
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: February 5, 2023
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