My Best Friend (Julie Fogliano & Jillian Tamaki)

Hello, friends! After a week of adjusting to our new homeschooling schedule, we’re back with a new review: My Best Friend by Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki, a lovely ode to childhood friendship.

“I have a new friend,” begins a preschool girl with curly red hair, as she laughs on the tire swing with another little girl in glasses. Spare, childlike text recounts the day they spend together, descriptions of her friend, and reasons she knows they are best friends: “she LOVES strawberry ice cream/and i HATE strawberry ice cream/and we are still friends even then”. They are best friends; the little girl is sure, even though she’s never had a best friend before. They’ll meet again tomorrow to laugh and play some more – perhaps even learn each other’s names – because that’s what best friends do.

Charming. This sweet, slice-of-life tale captures the guileless innocence of early best friendships, which can be built in the span of a day on something as simple as a shared sense of play. The text, all in lowercase except for occasional emphasis, is playful, earnest, and soothing to read aloud. The girls’ adventures, ranging from sidewalk chalk drawings to hide-and-seek to a heartwarming scene of one comforting the other’s sadness over crushed flowers, are snapshots of young childhood that little readers will connect to and older readers will feel nostalgic for. The soft, scribbly art captures expression, imagination, and tone exquisitely. The length is perfect, and JJ and I both enjoyed it. This is a great one, especially for little ones just learning to make friends; it shows how quickly friendships can form, and how wonderful they can be. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

They Say Blue (Jillian Tamaki)

Hello, friends! Our book today is They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki, a thought-provoking meditation on the colors of life.

They say that the sky is blue, and that the sea is too, thinks the little girl who serves as narrator. However, she muses, when she holds the water in her hand, it becomes as clear as glass; when she throws it into the sky, it sparkles like diamonds. It’s this train of thought – the natural wonders of color, of seasons, of nature, of life – that the girl remarks on as she goes about her days. The yellow of a field seems like a sea she could sail upon, unless of course the rain has made it gray and dull (though that same rain is what brings the vibrant purple flowers of spring). Her hair is as black as the cloak of night, and her mother parts it like a curtain to let the sun in each morning; braids it as the two consider the equally black crows outside, and what the crows might be considering of them in return.

This is a truly lovely book. There’s no real lesson here: colors, seasons, and weather are all touched upon but hardly covered in-depth. The narrative flows more like a stream of consciousness, one of childlike wonder, curiosity, and imagination. It’s a journey, and a beautiful one at that, filled with striking art that blends the real, symbolic, and abstract in swirling, sweeping movement and, yes, color. The text has a soothing tone that doesn’t compete with the illustrations, making for a calming and contemplative read. The length was great, and JJ and I both enjoyed this. A beautiful look at the life of color, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.